Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Gradyville Flood [June, 1907] and A Sunday Deluge [May 2, 2010]

We went to bed last evening to the sound of rain on the roof and thunder booming and rolling about the hills.
This morning I woke to see the two bottom garden strips below the drive running with muddy water.
J. donned his rain suit, a hard hat [which formerly saw service as a snow-mobiling helmet] and boots. Armed with a shovel, he created run-offs for the accumlating water.

The creek which runs below our property had burst its banks by 11 A.M. and was encroaching on the roadway.  Our neighbor, Dale, came by to borrow a ladder in an attempt to clean the maple seed-wings and small leaves from his  clogged eaves troughs. His young grandson stuck his head and most of his excited small body out of the truck window and shouted, "You should see the creek!"

Our cottage sits on a sloping hill well up from the creek, safe from the flood. Still  we discovered that the storm drain in the basement entry was clogged--likewise with seed pods and leaves, allowing the fast-flowing rain water to gurgle under the door and spread across portions of the basement floor.  While J. worked to unstop the drain, I swept the water toward another drain near the heating/cooling unit.
The cats ventured down the basement stairway to watch.  Several very sensibly retreated to the dry, warm safety of the bedroom.
Charlie and Maizie trolled  the edges of the wet. Their daughter Jemima got her paws damp, shook them in disgust and retreated upstairs.

With a late breakfast finished, J. couldn't resist taking the car and driving in both directions until he encountered water flooding the roads. He announced on returning home that he didn't think it was "necessary" to see if the car would go through.

The water rose rapidly, surging into the road at intervals where the creek loops nearby.

From the living room window we could see small trees, logs, a huge round hay-bale, unidentified debris hurtling by.  J. called me to the window to see where a log caught against a roadside sapling which bucked and folded under the onslaught.

Slightly after noon J. announced that he was taking old Snort'n Nort'n and going out again to check the state of the several nearby bridges. This is the bridge up the road headed toward the hamlet of Gradyville.

Water pelts past the old Dodge truck, submerging the grass on the verge of the road.

Going the other way from the farm, past neighbor Dale's place, the road is closed, the bridge impassable.
I began to wonder where J. had gotten to.  As I suspected, the men of the area had convened to look at the water, pass judgement on the state of the roads, shake their heads and make sage comments.

Early in the evening the rain had slowed, we could see from the house that the water was beginning to recede.
A close-up of the debris caught along the lower bridge.

Dale's animals stand in the sopping grass, seemingly unfazed by the innundation of their pasture with water.
Dale spent Thursday and Friday evenings driving posts and stringing electric fence, most of it washed away.

Each time we go out Old Gradyville Road on our way to anywhere, we pass this bridge and the gravel road to the old church.  The church is in the area where the floodwaters in June 1907 caused death and destruction.

Hear you can see Big Creek roaring and leaping down the hollow much as it must have done on that dreadful night. Gradyville residents speak of "the flood" as though it had happened a decade or two ago rather than more than a century past. This is an area where families have lived for generations, inter-marryinging and neighboring.  Many of those still here bear the surnames of those who died in the historic flood.

It was houses postitioned like this old cottage which were swept away by the 1907 flood.

We crossed Highway 80, the Edmonton Rd just above old Gradyville and took the narrow road towards Sparksville.

There too, muddy water stood in the fields.

No more rain, please, for a few days!

The above link should take you to an archive of stories and reports of the 1907 Gradyville Flood.  Some of the accounts were published days after the event. Others are the memories of those who survived the flood or wrote out the family stories that were handed down regarding the events of that dreadful night.
They make for a fascinating, if chilling read.
A handsome old house which we pass going out Old Gradyville RD has just been listed for sale. It is the Moss [later Keltner] home which remained intact when many around it were swept away.  As the dead of the flood were recovered, nearly all of them women and young children, they were "laid out" in the parlour of  this house awaiting the caskets which were donated and rushed down from a funeral home in nearby Columbia.
The legend prevails that the voices of grieving woman have sometimes been heard in the house, murmuring over the lost children. All old houses have seen their joys and sorrows, births and deaths. I am sustained by staunch religious beliefs regarding the dead, but I don't discredit the "voices." I find myself wondering if this bit of the home's history will be part of the listing "features."
In this tiny community with its long ties of kinship and memory, the losses of the Gradyville Flood echo down the years. 
I pray for sunshine and  a drying breeze this coming week!


  1. Thank you for a great post. I enjoyed it and the links very much. It made me think of course of the storm we had here 6 weeks or so go now. At least you can be confident that your new house is on a good site.

    Lovely little peek into tha cats' reactions.

    thanks again....Al.

  2. What an amazing ..if not scarey .. post ...had me glued to the screen to the end ...later I must link to the 1907 account.

    How often will this happen?? and can it be a lot worse ...hope the veggies survived.

    I love it when catsappear surprized when something is wet. lol

  3. I talked with my family in Tennessee today to hear about all the flooding that has happened there as well. I'm glad your home is on a hill!

  4. I thought about you during all that rain. We were up in Boise visiting family so I couldn't blog. Glad you are safe, warm and dry! Bodes well for the future. Hope the cats have settled in comfortably.