JUST A LITTLE RIVER CONGESTION...

I’d like to take a moment to detail how much this year’s February flooding sucked, even two months later…

If you hooked the Hoosier Dam’s turbines to a single Dyson vacuum, it wouldn’t suck as much as that flood did.

If you force-fed Red Bull to Count Dracula, then set him loose on Audrey Hepburn, he wouldn’t suck as much as that flood did.

That flood sucked almost as much as ‘The Emoji Movie’ (That’s the one). 

For most Hoosiers, the damage was limited to flooded basements and difficult commutes. Relatively speaking, you’re lucky if that was you. Some were hit harder than others, and some (yours truly) had to deal with the flood both at home and at work. Mother Nature’s version of an alley-oop. 

To this day, I am faced with the direct and awesome results of a Millenia flood (I officially call it that) on the serpentine shores of Deep River in Northwest Indiana. The centerpiece of the 1300-acre Deep River County Park, Deep River itself is a shallow, slow-moving river that attracts thousands of sightseers, hikers and canoes every year, typically in the spring and summer.

Sightseers, hikers, come on in. You canoe folks, you might need to sit this one out. Trees didn’t just fall into Deep River this year, but marched into it like lemmings, spurned by the unrelenting flood. Hundreds of trees still straddle and choke the river, from tumbleweed masses of scrub trees to ancient maples with initials carved into the sapwood.

Workers and volunteers are still working for hours a day at simply clearing the damage of the rushing water from the visitors areas and park trails. The cat’s cradle of lumber dominating the many twists and turns of Deep River haven’t even been touched yet, because the routine park maintenance must go on. 

There’s no need to worry about the river itself. Rivers have ways of keeping themselves clean, even from the pollution in the northern Calumet region. The river is moving fast and healthy right now, because, to misquote ‘Jurassic Park’ “[Water] uh, uh…finds a way.” And it does, flowing up, over, around and through any object. Water made the Grand Canyon, after all: it can handle a birch tree.

But that doesn’t hold true for fish that call the river home. Fishing in the river this year will be interesting. Will the fish get choked in pockets and eddies, or will fishing enthusiasts find hundreds of new sweet spots to cast into?

Canoes that typically crawl down the picturesque stream may find themselves taking very, very short canoe trips. How short? I’d say maybe ten, fifteen minutes and you’ll hit the first impassable mass, which looks like beavers from Hell came to Northwest Indiana.

Removing the massive jams is forthcoming, but it involves several workers, chainsaws, excavators, waders, and lots of cuss words. No one wants to hop in a flowing river with a fifty-pound chainsaw and wrestle it through a two-foot thick oak, all while maintaining their balance against the river. But we’re going to do it. Because we’re built Ford tough. 

It’s not just logs. Sandy deposits doused the grassy paths and landscaping of the park proper, exposing or destroying delicate root systems of old and new trees and shrubs. Workers are currently trying to refill these holes by the bucket load. Tractor-bucket, that is. Hand tools are getting just a good a workout, and most employees go home tired and sore, hands stinging with blisters from endlessly shoveling, raking, lifting and dragging. 

No one is complaining, mind you. Those that work at the park or volunteer do it for a reason. We love county parks. But, damn, I hope it doesn’t flood again for awhile. I don’t think our backs can take it.

*I would like to add that two weeks after writing this article, the author did have a back spasm and missed two days of work. He dedicates (and attributes) that spasm to flood cleanup, and would like to wish it an unprintable string of curse words. And also make fun of its mother. 

 

Want to Know More?

Check out the Deep River County Park website, for activities in and around the park. Great place for a stroll, a hike, or short exploration of history. Leave the canoe paddle at home for now.

The United State Geological Survey Site is the finest source available for flooding and precipitation info, past, present and future. Newscasters get their information there. You should, too.

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