Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Egads, its Armageddon! (Part I)

Number of hours I worked at an outdoor fundraiser this past weekend? 23
Number of times I was on stage frantically packing sound equipment in a lightning storm and torrential downpour? 3
First time seeing a flash flood as my new car is submerged under four feet of water? Priceless

This weekend we held our annual outdoor fundraiser, which also happened to coincide with the worst storm to hit Southeastern Wisconsin in fifteen years (not including the 28 hours of blizzard we experienced in February).

Saturday started bright and breathtakingly hot. The festival was going great, event goers were enthusiastic, the atmosphere electric, when at 5:00 p.m. a black cloud came on the horizon and a tornado siren screamed in the distance.

The festival was temporarily closed and all volunteers and staff were ushered inside. Those of us running the show rushed to the stage and frantically covered the sound equipment with tarps and garbage bags as lightning flashed in the torrential downpour. Our work hastily completed, we braved the elements and ran to join the others inside.

Enjoying an open bar in the restaurant (cleverly located in the basement), not thirty minutes passed when security ran down to alert us of water gushing down the stairwell. Yes, as fate would have it, a flash flood the likes of which I have never seen, was barreling down the street and destroying our hopes of dry, working vehicles.

This photo is us enjoying ourselves in the basement Cafe whilst waiting out the storm - gloriously unaware of the flash flood about to hit.

The waters crested at approximately five feet, and then almost immediately began to recede. Assessing the damage, we waded to our cars and most of us were happy to note that they started when we attempted to move them to higher ground.

The festival grounds, meanwhile, still resembled a whitewater-rafting course, and our sound technician was unhappy to see the stage submerged in four feet of water. With rain still falling, we no longer kidded ourselves about getting soaked as we slowly traipsed over to help pack up the cables, monitors, speakers, and such.

The evening a total loss, we left together (1 route closed due to a collapsed building, several others closed due to flooding), we made plans to arrive early the next morning and assess the damage.

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