Temporary Home

Monday, October 31, 2016

Freizeit was a travelling vacation home, but it was never supposed to be a home at home. Then Hurricane Ike hit.

By September 14, 2008, Ike had already wrecked havoc in the Lesser Antilles and Texas. It was still carrying the water it had picked up when travelling over the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and it needed a place to dump it. So Ike looked at Northwest Indiana and smiled. Or, more accurately, it cried, giving us 10 inches of rain in 24 hours.

The picture at the head of this post shows what the sky was like several days after the rain stopped. You can see the masts on the sailboats at the marina.

September 14 was a Sunday. After we got home from church, Roland went down by the Little Calumet River and saw crews trying to sandbag it. The river had already broken through in one spot, however, and Roland came home and told me to get ready to evacuate if necessary. Then he went to the town garage to help fill sandbags.

I packed clothes for both of us for several days. I also grabbed towels, Roland’s school bag, my laptop, and my camera and loaded them into my car. I left as soon as I saw the water come flowing down our street.

I also made sure to take the boat keys, as I knew that would give us a place to stay. Roland thought of the same thing, so after filling some more sandbags, we drove both cars to the marina. Many of the bridges over the Little Calumet were closed, and even I-94 was flooded, so it took us over two hours for what is normally a 20-minute drive.

The best thing about staying on the boat was its location. Both of our jobs were north of the river, so we didn’t have to cross the Little Calumet to get there. We did for church, though. Several people remarked that we went to the water to escape the water. Pastor Stumpf wanted to know if we had any animals on the boat, but we didn’t. No ark for us.

I’m not sure where we would have stayed without the boat to flee to. Several families from church offered their spare bedrooms, but I like my privacy. We probably would have gone to a hotel. Fortunately, we didn’t have to.

It was two and a half weeks before we could stay in our house again. The water came up about 5 feet on the lower level of our tri-level home, practically destroying the laundry room, the second bathroom, and the family room. Roland likes to joke that he filled a dumpster with the books he had to throw out. The water also rose almost a foot in our office, the garage, and the rooms behind them, which we had been using for storage. But the living room and kitchen were raised slightly and didn’t have any damage. Neither did top floor with the bedrooms and the other bathroom. So we returned home as soon as the town cleared the house for habitation.

The next time we stayed on the boat, it was under better circumstances: a vacation trip up the eastern coast of Lake Michigan.

You can read about that next week as I conclude this look back at our sailing adventures.

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