On Sunday August 19th, an unprecedented event occurred over Central Oklahoma. We were expecting the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin that had come ashore in Texas and meandered west then turned north and finally eastward into Oklahoma. What we got was something a bit different. Contrary to normal tropical storm progression, Erin did not not continue to weaken over land, but intensified over Oklahoma during the night on Saturday and into early Sunday until it was again tropical storm strength. Radar images early Sunday morning, as Erin approached Oklahoma City, showed a well defined eye.
When we woke on Sunday morning, we had some minor flooding in the two southside bedrooms and the rain gauge had 5.30 inches of rain. I fed and walked the dog in drizzle, and noticed the pond had filled (it was dry on Saturday), and some erosion of the driveway. But Erin wasn’t done with us yet. By 7am the next rain band was lashing us, and the soil already saturated, was not letting any more soak in. Our new drains were quickly overwhelmed (within minutes) and we doggedly attempted to divert as much water as we could from the house by deepening the previous trenches.
We were only partially successful. More water got in the house. At one point, we had water flowing two to three inches up the side of the house. Master bedroom, studio, radio room, kitchen and mudroom, all had water infiltration. I wish we could have taken photographs of the disaster as it occurred, but we were a little busy trying to limit the damage. It took three days to dry everything out, which is pretty quick thanks to our wet/dry shopvac sucking a lot of the water from the underpadding of the carpets. We had to camp in the living room for two nights, but given the amount of water that flowed by the house, we felt lucky. 8.65 inches fell from T.S. Erin as she passed by in six hours.
When the rain slackened we had a chance to snap a few shots of the Windhaven River. The water was flowing so fast and deep that I had difficulty walking up our front walkway. You can see our pond just beyond the river driveway, something we don’t usually see from the front porch.
I walked around the pond, and found the water so high that it was inches from overtopping the dam and was actually flowing around the “upstream” end of the pond, as well as gushing out he overflow pipe (below).
Erin left us with a bit of a mess to clean up and fix. The back porch needed a good cleaning, but the mud left wonderful patterns, showing where the water flowed.
The walkway will need some fill and repair. I’m not sure what happened to the rock but assume it’s buried under the mud in the hole.
The newly dug trench in the backyard for the drain pipe, was a path of least resistance for the water and completely uncovered the pipe, all the way to the exit. Most of the sand ended up in a big delta a little further downhill, so I might find enough fill to repair the yard. We’ll see.
I mentioned some erosion of the driveway. The second wave of rain finished the job. It’s hard to get an idea of perspective, so I’ll tell you that the trench is knee deep, and the delta of material at the end of the driveway spans half way across the road. Looking uphill (below), you can see the driveway is only passable by driving in the vegetation uphill. Amazingly, the UPS truck managed it.
We were expecting tornadoes when we moved to Oklahoma, but a Tropical Storm? Apparently so! In our first year at Windhaven we’ve experienced record rainfall, a blizzard, 100+ degree heat, and a tropical storm, but no tornado! Global climate change? Perhaps.