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  Brule River Flood

Nancy Grauer, interviewed by Joe Meals
Brule, Wisconsin
February 2004

JM: So Mom, when did your weather story occur?

NG: Our weather story occurred on April 23, 2001.

JM: What happened to make this a memorable day?

NG: Well, we were getting a lot of rainfall. Our power went out sometime during the night. When I got up in the morning there was no power. I could see that the weather was bad so right away I tried to call people to see how it was affecting them and whether they knew if there was going to be school or not.

Well, everybody I called had a cordless phone; they don’t work when there’s no power. So that kind of shot that idea. So then I decided what I had to do was to go out in the car and turn on the car so that I could listen to the radio out there. I listened to the radio and found out that school was closed because of the flooding. Of course school was closed because there was no power. The power outage was very widespread.

So it was me and my three kids at home. My oldest son had just gone through major surgery and had to basically lie on the couch. He couldn’t get up, and he was in a lot of pain and that was going on too. Of course with no power there’s no TV, no heat, no water. You can’t flush the toilet. There’s no video games, no radio or anything like that. So I decided since my oldest son was sick and my other kids were younger that I’d better not go to work that day so I did call in and tell them I couldn’t come in to work.

We spent the day hanging around in the living room wrapped in blankets. It was getting colder and colder in the house. And we just sat. We read a lot. We read aloud and we read to each other. And we made things like sandwiches.

During this time I was watching the water level in the basement because we were really getting a lot of rain and we need to run a sump pump in our basement to keep the water out of it. Well of course with no electricity our sump pump went out. The water was coming up in our basement and eventually it got to be about 6 inches deep down there and so things were floating around. It was getting kind of bad down in our basement.

In the afternoon we decided we were cold and we were getting bored with other things so we decided to go for a ride. We drove down to the Brule and we were astonished to see that the Brule River was way over, flooding its banks and had come up over one of the bridges, and that was a sight I’ll never forget.

JM: So what do you think was the worst part of this?

NG: The worst part for me was the fact that we had no power and the fact that our basement flooded because of it.

JM: Was there any good parts about it and if so, what?

NG: Well, I got to take a day off of work and another good thing was my kids and I were all together. It gives you a chance to spend some time reading, which you don’t always do as a family, and being together, and just learning to appreciate things like your heat and your power and things that you kind of take for granted.

JM: Was there anything that had to be done after it, and if so, what?

NG: Well of course, our basement was flooded. After the water went down, which took a while, I had to spend hours and hours, days even, hauling up the stuff that got ruined. Of course, a lot of it was junk like old magazines and cardboard boxes and things that I just got rid of but there was a lot of wood scraps and different things that got ruined that I had to haul up the stairs and ended up hauling all to the dump. So that took a lot of time and a lot of work and some of the things I hauled out in the sun and let them dry out. Luckily our stuff like our furnace and our water heater and our freezer were OK and didn’t get ruined. It was just a lot of work to haul everything out and take things to the dump and let it all dry out.

JM: Well, thank you for letting and giving me time to interview you. That concludes it so goodbye.


Sponsored by:
Wisconsin Arts Board CIMSS UW Folklore Program