As I mentioned in my camping/All Star game post, the girls and I had to make a trip Thursday morning. It was a trip that began with a tremendous amount of stress and worry but ended up being only mildly annoying.
We headed down to the LVS. Not to boat or swim. Or even meet a contractor to do something cool to the house. Rather we were checking on it to make sure it was ok. Huge storms ripped through the area Saturday night/Sunday morning and then again Monday night.
The first night a small tornado hit just north of the lake, causing a lot of damage in the small town that our lake uses for postal needs. While the lake missed the tornado, there were still winds well over 60 MPH. That storm knocked out power and, thus, the pump for the water station, causing boil order to go into effect. And with the torrential rains on top of six weeks of heavy rain, the lake’s water level was high enough that boating activity was limited to idle speed only.
Then Monday evening came along and an even bigger storm did its best to wipe out the area. This time winds over 70 MPH battered the area off-and-on for nearly an hour. In that span, between four and five more inches of rain fell. When I went to bed that night, I was very nervous that I would be getting a call the next morning from the conservancy that I needed to come check out some damage to our property.
That call did not come, but I was not able to relax. That’s because all the phone lines were down, the cell tower was off-line, and pretty much the entire area was without power. They couldn’t call me if they needed to. From a local realtor’s blog, papers in that area, and Facebook I learned that there were trees down everywhere, many lying on top of houses, boat houses, and boats themselves. Water service was completely interrupted for a while. Electrical crews couldn’t even get to the lake to repair lines because all the major roads into the area were blocked by fallen trees and debris.
Wednesday I saw a picture of the lake patrol boat nearly sitting on top of its dock because the lake’s water level was so high. In the background, the small beach area was almost completely covered by water. So, in addition to worrying about all our trees – most of which are between 30 and 50 feet tall – falling on our house, or someone else’s, I was also worried about our boat somehow getting loose if the lines securing it to our dock failed.
From what I read Wednesday night, the roads were all open, power was slowly coming back on, and it seemed safe to go take a look. On our drive down Thursday, my palms were sweaty, my stomach flipped and flopped, and I kept getting mental pictures of trees crashed down on our house and the homes around us with power lines still on the ground blocking our path. About ten minutes from our house we started seeing damage. A huge tree ripped up by its roots here, limbs that had been cut by the power company bundled there. When we pulled into the lake community proper, suddenly the damage was more common. Every few feet there was another completely destroyed tree. More horrible scenarios rushed through my head.
So there was massive relief when we drove up and, at first glance, all seemed well. Lots of limbs, large and small, scattered about. The gravel walkway through the backyard was completely washed away. From the house, we could see our boat still in the dock, although sitting higher than we’ve ever seen it. As we walked down, I looked deeper into our cove, and yelled, “Holy crap, girls! Look at that!” Three houses down, two large trees, well over 30 feet tall each, had splintered near their bases and fallen into the lake. They took out part of boat house steps on the way down, and were effectively blocking any residents on the other side from getting their boats into the main part of the lake. Which wasn’t a concern at the moment, since the lake had been shut down for all boating activity.
The water level was over a foot higher than I’ve ever seen it, touching the lower framing of our dock. The boat was well secured but sitting well above the dock floor rather than even with it. I didn’t pull the cover to investigate the interior, but hopefully the battery is still in good shape. I imagine the automatic bilge pump had to do some work over the past few days.
Power was on intermittently while we were there, the refrigerator occasionally kicking on then back off again. Luckily we don’t keep too may perishables inside when we leave. There was melted ice in the bucket and some ice cream that leaked only a tiny bit. Some cheese and hotdogs got pitched.
I cleaned out the fridge and freezer, we spent a few minutes gathering up limbs and throwing them by the fire pit, and then we headed out. We drove by the beach, which was still mostly under water. We saw trucks and trailers full of trimmed limbs heading to an emergency drop off spot. Then we decided to drive out to town to see if we could find any tornado damage. We got stuck behind a line of electrical trucks that were headed there too, so we decided to skip the sight seeing. But we did come across several places where, based on the sawdust, limbs, and visible trunks, the roads had likely been completely blocked a day or two earlier.
And then we headed home. I was immensely relieved and thrilled I didn’t have to call the insurance claims number I had scribbled down before we left. Many people have significant damage that is going to take a long time to fix. We were very, very lucky. By Thursday evening it appears that the entire area has power again. Some houses went nearly 72 hours without any. Thank goodness for the people who live down there full-time it hasn’t been too hot and humid.
We’re heading back down this weekend with three families from St. P’s. It’s supposed to be hotter than it has been in nearly two years. We’re hoping the electrical grid holds and the AC is working. And while it would be great if the lake was open for boating again, at least we can swim.
- You may recall we had a large tree fall on a neighbor’s home two years ago when a storm with winds over 60 MPH hit the area a week before Thanksgiving. ↩