We're not at all unique in this, as the American Midwest gets flooded all the time, but my town is currently under a state of emergency after receiving between six and 10 inches of rain in 72 hours, from thunderstorm after thunderstorm. The local river, the Fox, is one-and-a-third feet above its previous record high mark, and numerous bridges and roadways in the area are closed.
My house is safe because I live high on a hill, although my son and I were out in the dark and the rain the other night, baling water out of our window-wells with buckets. I lost a bunch of stuff in the basement (including some prints and negatives, which I should have known better than to store down there). If you want to see some spectacular video, however, go here and click on the blue "Video" bar about six inches down the page on the left-hand side. (Note that the video isn't stable; the provider is updating it periodically. If I can find a more stable URL I'll add it below.) The scene is Lake Delton in the Wisconsin Dells. The lake rose so high that it burst its banks and carved a new channel through to the Wisconsin River—right through a major highway. The rush of water was so powerful that it has drained six feet off the entire lake in just a matter of hours. The lake might never recover. And the houses—well, you can see from the video. Dramatic stuff.
Our best wishes to our friends, neighbors, and countrymen who are contending with the weather.
UPDATE: Here's a map showing what happened at Lake Delton, a manmade 267-acre lake lined with vacation homes and resorts in the Wisconsin Dells area. The lake rose so high that it essentially cut a new channel to the Wisconsin river, obliterating a stretch of Highway A—and then draining the entire lake in short order.
And here is a more stable YouTube URL showing an entire house being swept away in the process, one of several caught on video.
Lake Delton two years ago (photographer unknown)
Aerial photograph by Benny Sieu showing the breach between the lake (on the left) and the river (on the right). Note the Delton Lake dam in the lower left, which created the lake originally. When water started to spill over the top of the dam, it was sandbagged; water later began to flow over the land bridge between the lake and the river. The land was so soaked by incessant rains it gave way, creating the raging flood channel seen in the videos that swept away whole houses. The dam held.
The owners of these two houses were reportedly not allowed to purchase flood insurance, because there was "no danger" of flooding. Photo by Joe Koshollek.
This is Lake Delton Monday afternoon after the approximately 600 million gallon lake drained into the Wisconsin River. Photo by Joe Koshollek.
Closer to home: a motorist tries to cross a flooded street in the city of Waukesha despite being warned not to. Improbably, he made it. This is just a couple of miles from where I live. Photo by Allen Fredrickson.
By Stuart Carlson, cartoonist for the local paper.