The Great Flood of 2013

(note: all photos are from very early stages of cleaning and renovating the acreage)

It was a peaceful, sunny late-April afternoon on the acreage.

Jake and I were contentedly working on framing the floor for my long-awaited greenhouse after evaluating every possible location on our property before settling on the perfect spot for the build.

The winter had been LONG and COLD and HARD and we were thankful to finally have some real heat in the strengthening spring sun.

The sun felt so good and the air smelled so fresh! Birds chirping in a light breeze… So relaxing…

Little did we know this was the beginning of the Great Flood of 2013!

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Is that the name all the other locals are calling this catastrophe – The Great Flood of 2013?!

Honestly, I have no idea.

But who truly has the right to name events and make that name stick? I feel that the name is more than accurate.

When seasoned farmers tell me that this flood is nothing they have ever seen in their lifetime, nor their parents or grandparents before them, I realize that I have witnessed history – at least local history!

But before I get into the flood, I have to back up about a month to give you an idea of just WHY and HOW everything happened…

In late March we had a monumental blizzard.

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We are not just talking “travel not recommended” – it was more like “impossible to stay on the road!”

For 3 days and 3 nights, with howling wind and continuously mounting drifts of snow on top of glare ice, the blizzard continued to shake the entire house.

The scenario made me think of “The Little House on the Prairie” books where they had to tie ropes to the barn from the house so they didn’t get lost in the blizzard at night…

We were in hurricane Sandy in 2012, just the year before, and the winds we get here remind me of the strength of a hurricane, but oh-so-much-colder and even more miserable (if that is possible)!

This torment of ripping wind, drifting snow, and extreme cold did not let up until the 4th day.

Thank God the power stayed on and that we had enough food to hunker down during all this!

(The 21st century is a much kinder time for ordeals such as this…)

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Venturing out, we found that the driveway had drifts as tall as ME all the way down the drive!

Now, I’m not overly tall, but at 5′ 5″ to have a snow drift that is above my head – that is ONE. BIG. DRIFT!

At this point I am re-thinking the title of this blog; should I change it to the Great Blizzard AND the Great Flood of 2013?! (drop a comment below and let me know what you think!)

The R.M. (Rural Municipality) grader came along on the 4th day, trying to get all the roads cleared of the deep drifts and were kind enough to try to dig us out.

BUT they themselves almost kept getting stuck and simply couldn’t move that amount of rock-solid, packed snow.

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If you have never lived where drifts form, they can be soft and fluffy sometimes – HOWEVER, in a blizzard, the snow gets packed so violently that it becomes a solid wall of ice-like-consistency.

A friend was able to bring out a front end loader tractor (we live in farm country, so it was a large-scale tractor) and eventually dug us out after a few hours.

NOW, fast-forward back to the Great Flood of 2013!

Our “lakefront property” during the early stages of the flood.

Jake and I took a moment away from the greenhouse build and went for a walk around the property to check our trees and noticed that the 3′ tall culvert was full to the top, flowing fast.

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It has been normal in other years for the culvert to fill to the top during the first melt, however it was already full and still visibly rising!

That was our first warning sign of trouble.

We kept an eye on it for a few minutes and when we saw that it continued to rise AND RISE we knew things were going to get bad fast.

And they did.

Within 1 hour, almost the entirety of our property was under water.

The driveway that once had snow drifts taller than me was now thigh-deep with flood water!

Our boat was floating around in the lake our acreage had become.

Our boat trying to float away in the flood waters.

Mini icebergs were floating through the water, breaking off of the deep snow drifts we still had.

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My poor horse, Stormie, as up to her belly in ice cold water and had to be rescued from her pasture with the help of yet another tractor and more friends.

Friends helping get my horse to safety.

It was all a mind-numbing disaster that happened so quickly and so unexpectedly.

Staying hunkered down in the house during a blizzard for 3 days is one thing, but this? This was STRESSFUL!

I haven’t even mentioned the house yet.

The house has a 1,500 square foot basement with roughly 8 foot ceilings – AND ALL OF IT WAS UNDER WATER!

You could literally see 3 steps into the basement above the waterline.

Thankfully we had realized early on that the power should be turned off at the pole to minimize damage and, also thankfully, the basement didn’t have finishing work done yet.

*sigh* silver linings can sometimes take time to appreciate.

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My brother-in-law joked that we had a lake-front property when I posted pictures later that day and I knew I would laugh at that comment later, but it wasn’t funny at the time.

In the stress of the moment – trying to get sand bags to fortify the house, tromping through either hip-deep snow drifts (yes, we still had HUGE snow drifts) or the thigh-deep ice water, and calling the R.M. for help, I may have become borderline hypothermic to the point that I was shivering uncontrollably while still trying to help.

I got sent to the house to get dry clothes on and warm up while Jake and our friends kept an eye on things.

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With no electricity, and the water showing no sign of receding anytime in the near future, we crossed our fingers and hoped that the deep water in the driveway wouldn’t kill the engine on Jake’s truck as we tried making our way to a friend’s house to stay the night.

The road itself was washed out in at least 2 places that my car would never have made it through!

Thankfully (yes, that word again), we made it out alright and were able to spend the night in a warm house on an air mattress kindly provided for us.

This flood was another “3 days and 3 nights” scenario. We returned to the house to check on things and try to pump out the basement, however had to stay with friends for a while.

The water recessed for about a day, then flooded almost to the initial level again (and filled the basement we had *just* pumped out – again).

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The days following were a blur of trying to drain and dry everything – but more than that – of watching neighbours pull together, of seeing the way that controversy pushes people to work toward a common goal.

Was it still stressful?! YES!

Was it a lot of work?! YES!

Was it an uncertain time?! YES!

But there were so many people working together – so many people who helped us through the difficulties in the ways they could.

Kindness was shown.

Hospitality was shown.

Community was a real thing.

They say that “ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship” and, in retrospect, I can understand why.

Hardship forces people to pull together – or fall apart alone.

Pressure is what forms diamonds.

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WOW! That got deep. But what can I say aside from the fact that looking back on that time brought back a lot of emotion and resolution.

Eventually, everything was dried up enough for us to move home again and get back to “normal” after the clean-up.

OH! And the greenhouse? Wonder how that all turned out?

It turns out that the base floats. Like a raft. Like a modern day Noah’s Ark in some ways.

And we DID finish it after all the flooding had gone down and have grown lots of nutritious veggies in the greenhouse ever since!

So what do you think? Should I keep the post name as “The Great Flood of 2013” or change it?

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What was your experience during this flood? Drop a comment below!

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Author: Ellie

Born and raised in Alaska, I have lived in the land of the living sky since 2009. My husband and I live in a historic house over a century old on an acreage in the country.

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