The past 36 hours has been interesting for sure. As I am sure most of you know, areas of the Keweenaw were hit with devastating flash flooding early Sunday morning. The main period for the rain was from around 1:30 until 6 am. In that 4 1/2 hours, many areas in and around Houghton and Hancock received 6 to almost 7 inches of rain. We also saw rain Saturday night into Sunday morning, but nothing of the magnitude just to our south.
I knew the area was experiencing rough weather, as the lightning and thunder kept waking me up, as did poor Millie who was going from me to Nora and back to try and ease her nerves. At around 5:30, my phone gave a nasty electronic warning sound, very loud and very disturbing. I don’t even know where the warning and resultant sound came from, but who ever came up with the sound did an excellent job of making it effective at both waking a person up and also getting their attention. The warning was for Houghton CO, so I did not even read further. I just set my phone back on the nightstand and faded back to sleep.
I awoke at around 6:45 that morning and as I meandered from, the bedroom to my office, all appeared to be normal. When I got to my office, Nora was already awake and had told me that she was getting word of some bad flooding just south of us. So I got on the computer and started browsing to collect info. At first, there was not a lot of info, but what was coming through was bad. Entire streets washed out, others filled with boulders 1-2 feet in diameter and left there by the rushing waters. I spent the next hour or so waiting for more info to come in and then had breakfast.
Grace was to start summer camp yesterday afternoon in Eagle River (MI) and so far all of the info had seemed to indicate that the flooding took place from around Lake Linden to just south of the airport and then south through Hancock and Houghton and ended just a bit south of Houghton. Never the less, Grace and I took a quick trip up to the camp to make sure all was well there and that camp was still going to go on as scheduled.
As we drove from our house up Hwy 41 to Eagle River, all looked pretty normal. There were some puddles and some ditches had water in them, but otherwise, it was just cloudy and business as usual. We got to the camp and saw that all was well and upon our return, we heard that the camp had sent out a note saying that they heard about all the bad flooding in the Houghton area, but that things were fine there and camp would go on as scheduled.
So we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon getting Grace ready for camp, trying to keep her from climbing the walls too much and also helping a friend out who had a daughter that was going to the same camp, but trapped in Houghton and was hoping to join us for registration. Enough of the main roads were opened up to allow them to get to our house in time to get to camp. So we dropped the girls off and then came home.
I have not personally been down to see the damage done by the flash flooding. The emergency officials are still asking folks to not travel in the area if you do not have to and I am heeding that. There are a multitude of pictures and even videos on social media and I will share some links to a couple that are very well done. I have also pulled a few from the web and will share with you, but because the damage was so extensive (over 60 washouts/sink holes), it is in both of our best interests to just point you to some of the albums already created, rather than putting it on here.
I must say that because we were basically left untouched by the flooding, yet areas very close by, areas that I see on an almost daily basis, areas where I know who lives there, or owns the business, damaged very badly, it is hard to comprehend without seeing it first hand. The images and videos I have seen are something I am used to seeing about areas around the country/world that I have never been to before. So my mind is having a hard time comprehending the whole situation.
I am also extremely grateful, but also feel a little guilty that we were not impacted by the flooding. It’s not that I wish we had gotten it too, more like I wish it had never happened to so many good folks. I do plan to see if there is anything I can do, either personally, or via the site and all of it’s wonderful visitors. I know that many of the local hotels and motels that were not impacted are offering up free rooms to those that have no place to stay and I am sure that there will be supplies needed, but I would rather sit tight and let the fog of war dissipate and things calm down before I start bothering those impacted and those who’s job it is to clean up.
As far as coming up here, that would determine where and when you are coming. If you are coming up and plan to stay from Calumet north to Copper Harbor or from around South Range south. Do not change your plans. Those areas were not impacted and are just fine. For those of you that have plans to stay in the impacted areas. I would sit tight as long as you can. The damage is still being fully assessed and in many cases, you should be able to get around without too many problems by later this week. However, only time will tell when all issues will be fixed. So let the business in Houghton, Hancock, Dollar Bay, Tamarack City, Hubbell and Lake Linden have a day or two to assess and figure some things out and then call. If you are coming up for the Independence Day holiday, I would suggest waiting until next week to call.
Much of the damage seems to have been to roadways and not as much to buildings/businesses. That is not to say that all businesses are operating normally, but a good percentage of them likely are in the affected areas and those that were might be able to recover in not too long of time. The first image I want to share with you is the MI DOT page showing where major roads have issues. There are a lot more side streets with issues, but most of them only impact locals and probably even have another way around them. Here is the link to the Houghton County Road Commission list of roads impacted. At last check, it was a hand-written list, which eludes to the extent of work they have on their plates, so please do not call them unless it is an emergency!
So here are some pics that I pulled from different sources which give an idea of the flooding. If I have stepped on any toes by posting these, please let me know and I will remove them from my site, but most of them appear in multiple sources on the internet, so I thought it would be safe to share them. The best album I have seen so far detailing the damage done is on Facebook and can be found here. I do not know where this shot was taken, but it shows some of the flooding as it was occurring. I believe this shot is from Paradise Road, which runs mainly north/south in the neighborhood between Houghton and Chassell. It is one of the complete washouts. This next one is also a complete wash out and is a side road that connects the strip malls off of Sharon Avenue to the Walmart area. This flooded area is just downstream of the previous pic.
The snowmobile/ATV trail system also sustained major damage in spots. The majority of them are on trail 3 from Hancock, through Dollar Bay, Tamarack City, Hubbell and Lake Linden. I know of at least 6 complete washouts, two of them monsters that are over 30 feet deep and over 100 feet wide. Here is a shot of one of them. As if to toss a little humor into the situation, Mother Nature decided to leave a sign post with the confidence marker on it. Besides the problems between Hancock and Lake Linden, I know of another washout between Houghton and South Range. Since this has all happened during the ATV season, I will refer you to their page for any additional info on trails. I do know that trail 17 is fine to ride from Hancock to Calumet and that all other trails did not have significant damage, but the entire region saw at least 3-4″ of rain over the weekend, so one should ride with extra caution and be on the look out for flooded sections or areas where the trail has lost material on its edges. As far as when those massive problems will be fixed, I have no idea right now. I do know that members of the ATV club were out surveying the damage with a DNR official, so it has been put in the hands of those that will lead the charge to fix things. As soon as I know more, I will let you know.
On our trip to check to see if Gracie’s camp was OK, we did stop at the Eagle River Falls and I snapped a shot of them. As you can see the water was flowing pretty good over them, but not at record levels. Had the north end gotten the 6-7″ that Houghton/Hancock had gotten, it would have been a different story for sure.
So if you are wondering what caused all of this to occur, it was basically a series of severe thunderstorms that traveled over the same area, dumping torrential rain for around 4-5 hours. I have seen an extended radar loop of the storm and did not see strong signs of train echoing, but there did appear to be several impulses that lead to the excessive totals. This morning, I was doing some research on the causes and I saw that the moisture and energy that traveled over the Keweenaw to produce those rains were enhanced by the remnants of a hurricane that was in the eastern Pacific off the coast of Mexico earlier in the week. It was hurricane Bud and made landfall in Mexico on the south end of the Gulf of California in the vicinity of Mazatlan. It then traveled up through NW Mexico into Arizona, New Mexico, then CO, then the Dakotas, northern MN and into the UP. It’s hard to determine if that moisture and energy was the root cause of the excessive rainfall, or just enhanced it, but it was clear that the impulse of what was left of Bud was over the Keweenaw early Sunday morning.
I hate to end the journal with no “light” news to share, so I will share some pictures of our fishing excursions this weekend. Nora’s brother made a quick trip up and back from Port Huron. He is a huge fisherman and owns Anderson’s Pro Bait in Port Huron. The Norwegian fishing blood also flows thick through Nora’s body and it is almost an automatic that they will go fishing when he comes up. I have been slowly getting back into fishing and Nora even helped the cause by having her brother bring up a new rod and reel for me for my birthday last week. It is amazing the difference between a run-of-the-mill rig and a high end one! I cannot believe the difference in casting and feel.
I did not catch any fish with the new rig, but am sure I will someday. Nora was the fisherman Friday evening when she hauled in a nice pike. Nora’s brother, Joel, taught us a trick. If you hold the fish upside down like in the picture, they do not try and squirm away and get dropped on the dock!
The next evening, Nora, Joel and Gracie all headed off to fish. I was a little tired and there was the threat of some storms, so I stayed home to try and keep Millie calm if a storm came. Turns out Gracie was the fisherman Saturday evening. It was the first fish she has caught in her life! I was bummed that I missed, but am sure there will be plenty more in the future.
More storms rolled through yesterday evening, but caused little in the way of additional problems. Nora also tried a remedy for Millie’s anxiety with the thunderstorms and it worked great. It was a combination of some Rescue Remedy (an all natural stress relief tincture) and some “valor” essential oils applied to the fur on her head and shoulders, as well as letting her smell Nora’s hands with the oil on it. Millie sat on the couch, fully relaxed when the storm was rumbling through. We’ll be stocking up on that stuff for more storms, as well as the long car trips for both of them. They do not get anxious in the car, just wound up!
Good night from the Keweenaw..