It’s always hard to tell what all the factors are, but one can tell that the amount of visitors to our area is down from what it should be for this time of the year. I have also heard it from some business owners that they are not as busy as they typically would be. It stands to reason that there are some folks that decided not to come up because of the Father’s Day Flood and that is understandable, but the truth is, there really is no reason not to come. I can say that with the exception of some of the beaches being closed for swimming, everything else is open and running as it should be. Any roads still closed are out in the sticks and would not be an issue for a visitor. The exception being M 203 from Hancock to McLain State Park. There is a washout at the Sweedtown creek bridge that still has both lanes closed, but you can still get to McLain’s from the other directions.
There is still some work being done, but most of it is being done at a small scale, cleaning out persons homes/yards that were flooded, etc. They have even consolidated the relief centers into one and about midweek, started getting the word out that they did not need some items, such as bottled water. What was in most need last week and probably still is in most need now are fans and dehumidifiers to help dry out living areas and basements of the effected homes.
It has been an amazing clean up effort. Different teams and groups that specialize in flood recovery/clean-up arrived in the days following the flooding and all of their comments were that they have never seen a community come together to take matters into their own hands. I believe it was a governmental organization that said only about a week after the flooding happened that our area was already two weeks ahead of what typically is done. As proud as I am of the community up here for banding together and getting so much work done, I also can say that it was very heart warming and inspiring to see support come from so many other areas. It really became a national effort, with clean-up crews and donations coming from many different areas of the country.
One of the relief funds created is at 8 million dollars and they are busy figuring out how to disperse the money. I have a meeting next week with them, because they want to know how they can help out with the snowmobile and ATV trails up here. I know many folks like to take pot shots at the DNR. Perhaps some of those shots are warranted, but I know that many are not. What I can say is that the DNR has been nothing short of spectacular in their handling of our situation. They had boots on the ground the day after the flood hit and last week, their ranks stood at 24 who were going around and making damage assessments, cordoning off areas that were closed and even making repairs in a few spots.
I believe there were over 100 wash-outs of the trails in Houghton County. Some were minor, while others were major (over 50 feet deep and over 150 feet wide). Please note that all of the damage was done in Houghton County and also from around South Range up to Lake Linden. ALL KEWEENAW ATV TRAILS ARE OPEN, as are all trails south of South Range. Here is a map of trails impacted. It is up to date as of two days ago and the situation is not likely to change too soon, although I know that they are working hard to get the trail opened back up from South Range to Houghton ASAP. So while someone coming up to ATV would be impacted, there are still tons of trails to ride and places to go. It is mostly getting in and out of the city of Houghton that is an issue. The issues with the trail from Dollar Bay to Lake Linden are so large in numbers and scale, that it is doubtful that trail will be open for the upcoming snowmobile season. Getting the work done is not the main issue, it is getting the funding. I forget the exact number quoted by the DNR to fix that section, but do know it is in the double digits of millions of dollars. So getting the funding is the major issue right now.
So the main help our region needs now is for folks to just come up. I would never say this if I thought that the flooding of two weeks ago would negatively impact your visit. Sad, but truthful to say, coming up to check out some of the damage still existing could be a reason to visit. I guess the bottom line is, tourism is a HUGE part of our economy up here and the businesses that depend on it are hurting. So please trust me when I say: Toss aside any worries you have. All is quite well up here now and we need those that were planning to visit to come up. If you did not have plans to come up, but are thinking about it. Do it. Especially if you have never been up here in the summer. It is just as wonderful a place in the summer as it is in the winter. We have not even hit 90 degrees yet this summer! OK, enough of the tourism chat, but I just really wanted to state that, as it would be a win-win for all involved. Someone coming up would have little to no issues and the businesses that are here and excited to serve you and become your friends will benefit from your visit.
Speaking of the weather, we went almost 12 days without rain since the flooding. That was a huge help in the recovery efforts. We also had pretty comfortable temps until this last Thursday, when we jumped into the 80’s, with higher humidity. All the other days were in the 60’s and 70’s with low humidity as well. Mother nature did decide our first rain event would not be a “baby step” back into things. It came around midday Friday and in the form of a severe thunderstorm. The storm raced in from the west and brought with it 50-60 mph winds, some hail and even a brief, but heavy downpour. I know it really had some folks on edge as it was approaching, but thankfully, it not only raced in, but through and out of our area. Lasting only around 20-30 minutes. It did put down a quick 1/2″ of rain, that swelled come drainage’s and had water running on the roadways. Here is a shot of the leading edge of the storm moving into the Houghton/Hancock area. The storm did hit the entire Keweenaw and I know at one point, it was as dark as night out, even though it was the middle of the day. I have never been in such darkness caused by a thunderstorm in my life and it was pretty eerie. No additional damage was caused by that storm.
We had more thunderstorms yesterday morning, that brought around 1-2″ of rain and some hail to the area. Between Houghton and Baraga, hail nearly 3/4’s of an inch in diameter fell. The storms yesterday also caused a seiche on Lake Superior. Reports of the water levels rising and dropping several feet came in.
As mentioned, we have not hit 90 degrees yet, but have found our way into the mid 80’s and some pretty high humidity. Our air conditioners have been running for the past 2-3 days, but looks like they will be able to be shut off early this week, with the lower humidity moving in tonight. The heater for our pool arrived on the 21st and I had to wait for a few other things to arrive, but hooked it up early last week, with the help of my Gracie. I had never done anything like that before, and it sort of combined the talents of three tradesmen. A plumber, an electrician and HVAC person. All went pretty good, except for one minor glitch. That last shot was taken just before we were going to test out the plumbing. That test started out by opening up the valves between the pool, pump and heater, looking for any leaks and then charging the system by turning on the pump. The initial leak test went well and all seemed good with the pump on, until Gracie noticed a small leak of water where the pipe for the water to exit the filter and head to the heater comes from. For whatever reason, I gave the pipe a little jiggle and the next thing I knew, there was water spraying everywhere! The connection of pipe to the filter was the last one I made and it turns out I forgot to cement that junction. So friction kept the leak from getting too big, but then when I jiggled things, the pipe came out and water squirted all over! It was an easy fix and we all got a good laugh from it. Once cemented in place, it worked just fine and we have been enjoying a nice warm pool all week!
The rains sure caused an issue two weeks ago, but as I keep harping, we have come a long way and a visitor to the area would have to go looking for problems. The woods are very happy with the amount of water we have gotten this June. The berry crops look like they are going to be a bumper one this year. We have already picked strawberries from our garden and Nora picked up 16 quarts from a local grower. Most of them were cleaned, frozen and then vacuum sealed. The thimbleberry bushes have more flowers on them than I have seen in a long time and the blueberries in our garden are also full of developing berries.
Meanwhile, this was the look from NW WY yesterday morning on Togwotee Pass. Yep, an inch or two of snow fell. The dates used for a “snow season” are July 1-June 30, so I guess mother nature wanted to sneak one last measurement in before the 2018-19 season started today!
Good night from the Keweenaw..