Wednesday and part of yesterday was a bad day for the flood-fighting effort. The city had brought in one pump, but it had problems and wasn’t working properly. When I got home Wednesday night, the water around my home was higher than when I had left Wednesday noon after checking my home, but the city workers had erected the clay dike and were busy maintaining it.

Parking was a problem, but I found a spot up the block from my home. A huge pump was brought in and set up out in the street at the northwest corner of my house to try to get the water pumped back over the dike.

Pump brought in by the city – the St. Marys is visible yet at the top of the dike-the sandbags piled in the middle are holding down a manhole cover where the river was backing up onto the street


Let me digress for just a moment. In July 2003 when we flooded, the city had brought in dump truck loads of sandbags to use, and we got those put in place. But the water was still getting through and running down into my basement. I am the lowest point on the block, so naturally the water came down to my one, little old corner to build up. And since the yard was a total disaster anyways, we dug a trench from three houses up down to the corner of my house.

My neighbors, who own the rental property next door, and I went together and rented a four-inch pump to decorate the corner of my yard. I had never run a pump before, so that meant I needed to learn the ins and outs of how to run the thing – not that it takes a rocket scientist to figure it out.

We put down plywood to support the weight of the pump. During the day while I was at work, one of the owners of the rental house watched the pump. When I got home, I grabbed a couple of hours of rest, and then went out at about 7:00 p.m. to spend the night on the porch swing. It was July, so at least it was warm.

I took out a couple of pillows and a light blanket and slept in the porch swing for three nights straight. I would doze – kind of hard to sleep really comfortably in a porch swing with a loud pump running close to you. I would get up every two hours to fill the pump with gas. My worst fear was that I would be so tired, I wouldn’t wake up and then the pump would run out of gas.

To further complicate things, my youngest son and I had just refinished the narrow strip of yard running along side my house the summer before. We had laid landscaping fabric down and lined the length with landscape timbers. We then put down lots of pretty red mulch to brighten it up. Let me tell you, pretty red mulch does a number on a pump. But good old ingenuity set in, and I brought out one of my spaghetti strainers, and we secured it to the end of the hose.

The first time I shut the pump off to put gas in, I forgot how I had been instructed to turn it back on. Dang – where was that rocket scientist manual when I needed it.  I about panicked when I thought I couldn’t get the thing started. After talking to myself a minute or two and fiddling with every switch on the thing, I remembered how to turn it back on. And at 2:00 a.m. with not a soul around, I could laugh out loud at my stupidity. And, I could laugh with relief. I didn’t forget again how to turn it back on.

So back to this ginormous pump sitting in the street by my house rattling and humming right now. It is huge. Wednesday night as it tried mightily to begin throwing the water back out into the river, I could feel the vibrations. All I could think about was my basement wall which had a large crack in it and had sprung a leak Wednesday night. One of my neighbors who had been helping me told me to just plug it with my finger like the little Dutch boy. Uh huh, right.

So tonight as the pump growls for the third night in a row, I have been keeping the city workers supplied with coffee and snacks. It is the least I can do for those who have put in long, tiring hours to protect us and help us save our homes. It is cold out, and I thought about sitting out on the swing for a while, not that it would do me any good. But it is also hard to relax. The workers don’t complain, and they don’t even ask me why I don’t want a wall along the river. And for that, I am thankful.

How do I explain the love I have for my little area and for the St. Marys and Thieme Drive? How can I make anyone understand when they see these pictures and wonder why on earth I wouldn’t want a wall to protect me and my neighbors? I can only ask that you sit on my front porch on a warm summer’s day with a breeze blowing softly and the trees green with life and the twitters and chatter of the wildlife along the river bank and the sun shining down and the river peacefully flowing through the city – then tell me you don’t understand.


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Cities and Towns, Environment, Floods, Fort Wayne, St. Marys River, Thieme Drive, Weather, West Central Neighborhood. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Pingback: Headwaters Park - Flood Control Works « North Fort Wayne River Development

  2. now that the deluge has receded, and the dove has found dry land….
    lets examine this recent disaster, and analyze it.
    first- al our national guard troops are in iraq. not much help here, thanks to the “current occupant”. ditto for My Man Mitch”- no noise about needing our boys here for just this kind of natural disaster.
    2. where do we need to plan to build somemore levees, and dikes of a more permanent nature?
    3. how well did the city handle this flood, and what can we do nex time to respond?
    4. what of more flood plain land buyouts, and natural damage control/mitigation.
    I think Mayor Henry handled this first trial by water about as well as anybody. We have all lived here many years by now, so the flood- control playbook is a little dusty, but we have a plan that has worked before.
    what of “6-sigmizing” this process; and improving the flood plans?
    just some ideas. sorry to all our friends, and neighbors who were flooded out. its no less traumatic for them than a tornado to the people down south, who were recently hit.
    these are the kinds or more realistic disasters and contingencies we need to prepare for-for homeland security; civil defense, etc.
    what if we ever get a flod of Katrina magnitude? or a levee fails? what then?
    It just shows that we need a growing, thriving expanding ceonomy to have the resources available to cope with these kind of natural and man made disasters.
    combined sewers?I think everything was flushed away sufficiently, with the giant mass of water through the ppes.
    Someone the other day said “well- now all the bodies will start floating to the surface” what a wonderful thought.
    but likely true.
    hope you allsurvived ok. My back isnt what it used to be, so I cant fill sandbags, or lift, and its time to hand the torch to the next generation( hmmm- where have i heard that before?)

  3. Roach:

    We don’t need any more levees, walls, berms, etc. These are only stop-gap measures. If you look at aerial views of the county during flooding, there is no way to “plug” every hole and gap. It is futile to think so.

    One problem that building more walls, levees, etc. creates is that when you block water from entering an area that was previously open to its flow, you shove the water somewhere else. All you are doing when you keep building walls and levees is redistributing the water – just like trying to shove too much into a girdle. You don’t get rid of it – you only move it somewhere else.

    After the Flood of 1982, the Army Corps did a study and provided 9 alternatives to help resolve flooding issues. As far as I am concerned, the best one was a Trier Ditch cutoff which would have diverted the water – either as a 40% or 80% diversion – before it reached Fort Wayne. The water would have been channeled through farmland south of Fort Wayne over to the Maumee River and from there would drain to Lake Erie.

    Obviously, as you look around, that was not the option chosen. At the time, it was considered too expensive. I have to wonder if it had been used, how much would have been saved in future flooding damage.

    If you care to look at the report, it is at the Allen County Public Library and is titled “Fort Wayne – Allen County Flood Protection Plan” dated April 1982.

  4. sandrar says:

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