As I awoke on Christmas morning, I expected a tasty breakfast and gifts from Santa. I did not expect to spend half my day up to my knees in flood waters!
On Christmas Day 2015, Guntersville, Alabama was hit with major flash flooding. We had house-rattling thunderstorms and lightning strikes all night on Christmas Eve, which turned into heavy rain on Christmas morning. Around 10-11 am, the rain was so heavy so quickly that it created powerful flash floods. Our house sits in the middle of a giant hill, allowing this flooding to create multiple rivers through our yard. Here is a video of the flash flooding around our house and yard on Christmas Day 2015.
The flash floods came on fast and strong, destroying large sections of our back yard and gravel parking area. It washed away tons of grass (our new sodding in the back yard), rocks & bricks from the parking area, and our new rubber mulch from the playground area. It flooded our garage and was within an inch of rushing in through our back door (which is a few feet above ground level because it is at the top of our back deck), and flooding our kitchen and downstairs.
Just as the water was reaching our back door (and rising quickly), I had to think fast to see if there was anything I could do to stop it. So we immediately got to work on creating makeshift dams to change the direction of the water flow, shoveling built up mulch & debris that was preventing water flow and creating water hose syphons to drain pooling areas, all while praying we did not get electrocuted or struck by the constant lightning!
The biggest difference maker was actually quite simple. Our back yard had multiple waterfalls and rivers running through it, and the water was building up higher and higher even though we have a chain link fence that should have allowed the water to flow through. What had happened is that tons of debris had washed into our back yard (under the fence where the water had ripped apart the grass) from the wooded area behind our house, and the debris was getting caught against the fence around the back of the house. The debris build-up was turning the fence into a dam, and the water could not flow through. This is why the water was rising so quickly and trying to flood our house. So I waded through the knee deep water and opened up all 3 gates in our back yard. As I did this, a mighty rush of water came through the gates, and I found myself in this waste deep river flowing out of my backyard and down my driveway. The power of the water was incredible, and luckily opening the gates released enough of the water that it kept the water from getting through our back door into the kitchen. We were very lucky that we weren’t out of town or our entire downstairs would have been under a couple feet of water!
Here are some pics of the yard during the flash floods.
The water got much deeper in this section of the backyard before I opened the clogged gate and released the water to the driveway.
Our retention wall was a waterfall most of the day on Christmas.
We could have gone tubing down our driveway during the flash floods.
Water flowed along one side of our back fence.
The water flowed around the house and through our front yard in large streams with waterfalls.
We had several heavy streams of water flowing into our backyard.
The previous owners dug a drainage ditch which helped with 1 side of the yard.
This stream of water was flowing hard along the back of our fence.
You can also see water flowing off our neighbor’s driveway into our drainage ditch on 1 side of the yard.
I opened this gate and released much of the built-up water, but the water still kept accumulating here.
Water ripped apart the grass in our backyard.
This section filled up quickly during the heaviest rainfall and flooded up through the deck.
I was worried the water was getting too high here and might get into the house through the walls or floor.
This section filled up deep and fast.
The water was gushing under our fence here and destroying the new sod in our backyard.
Water was flooding through this door into our garage, so I used debris and a plastic slide to create a dam that slowed the influx of water under the door.
This is a fraction of the debris that washed up onto our back deck from the wooded area behind our yard.
The heavy stream created a strong rapid here!
Hopefully we can shovel some of this rubber mulch back into the playground.
This side of our playground got pretty messed up by streams of water that carried away the rubber mulch.
This makeshift dam might not look like much, but using plastic tubs and a piece of playground roofing, I was able to slow and alter the water flow here just enough to keep the water from getting too deep on the back of our house.
The water kept pooling up in this little nook on the back of the house. It would not flow around the side of the house, so I had to create 2 water hose syphons to pull water out and keep it from getting too deep on the back of the house.
Water hose syphon #1.
Water hose syphon #2 gave me my 2nd mouthful of muddy water, but it was a small price to pay to get the water out.
The force of water was so strong that it broke up the asphalt on the road at the bottom of our driveway
This is the road at the end of our driveway. The flood waters carried huge sections of gravel from our parking area down the hill and into the road.
Several hours later, my water hose syphons were still flowing strong!
Several hours later, you can see that the water hose syphons did their jobs and mostly emptied the pool of water here.
The waterflow ripped out many of these bricks.
Many bricks from the side of our parking area were carried all the way out into the road.
Our gravel parking area now has large rivets where there used to be rocks.