Monday August 11….I wish I would have canceled class!

I am about to give everyone a very good indication where I live because I am about to describe my commute to work on Monday evening. This is a prelude to the pop quiz for this Friday.

I woke up on Monday morning to a very gloomy sky. I went through my normal rituals for a Monday morning which included a quick visit to the assisted living facility where my dad lives. While there my dad and I watched the local news and the weather came on.  A giant amount of rain was about to come through the area and mixed into it was some embedded storms. So I grumped to my dad that I hope it was all done before I had to drive out to work that evening and that I had better leave because I wanted to get home before the rain started.

When I got home I did the normal grading and prep work for later that evening and listened to hours and hours of pouring rain.  My husband came home from work and told me that he just drove through rain so bad it seemed like he couldn’t see a few feet from the car. I decided to cancel office hours and wait to see if it got better. I looked at the radar like a good little nerd and I saw a dry slot getting ready to move into the area in about an hour. I can wait.

An hour goes by and out of nowhere mother nature decides to build a new pocket of rain right in that dry spot. I decide it is time to go maybe we (my husband was going to drive me out) can beat it.

No..we did not beat it. We ended up right in the middle of it. As we drove down the freeway the rain poured at rates that eventually dumped in some areas 5.00 inches of water in a very short span of time.  Each underpass that we went through we noticed a very disturbing trend. Water was pooling so bad that it was starting to turn into a lake with waves.


Problem is there was no where to turn around to.  We kept plodding on until we got to an off ramp. Of course, I live in the state of perpetual road work so we had to go quite a ways to find a place to get off because several of the off ramps were closed due to construction. Each time we went into what I am going to refer to as another area of Lake Southfield I thought we were going to end up like the poor souls in this picture. The water was so bad it pushed our little car to the side. We had to try and stay in the wake of the car in front of us while avoiding debris and other cars.  Finally, we got off the freeway but it didn’t matter.

 by Micheal Mclintock

by Micheal Mclintock







The service drive was a river. We tried to turn onto a surface street to be faced with another large lake. So we went back to the service drive. At this point you may ask yourself why didn’t you just cancel class and go home. Very astute of you!  I didn’t cancel class because we were at that point closer to the school than home and I knew that I had students who were on there way too. It would not matter if I tried to cancel class they wouldn’t know until they got there.

Somehow I managed to make it to the school but the parking areas where lakes so it took some doing to find a spot to park. Shaking and upset I walked to class and believe it or not showed up on time.  Mind you what is generally a 30 minute drive took about an hour and a half but I got there.

I had about a third of the class show up. Mostly, the students who lived on campus or nearest the school. I did not feel like teaching. I felt like curling up in the fetal position and crying. In fact I did cry but not until later when we got home and I saw the pictures of the roads we traversed, the cars that were under water, and the people being rescued from the flooding.  That could have been me and my husband or worse yet that could be my students. Believe it or not, I care about my students, every last one of them. Even the ones who drive me nuts.  I cannot bare to think that one of them might have been one of the three people (so far) that died that day trying to get to my class.

Even though I did not feel like lecturing that night I felt I owed the ones who showed up some lecture but I really could not manage a full lecture in my state of mind with most of the class missing. Somehow a lecture took shape and I got through about half of what we were to do that night (although, I may have told them the Moon was made of Swiss cheese I am not sure?!?!!?)

After class I told the students if they wanted to wait around for awhile to let some of the storm crazy dry out they could I was not going anywhere for awhile considering all the major freeways were now major lakes and rivers so they were shut down.  I had to wait until some of the surface roads drained a bit before my long trek home.  My husband and I did not leave for almost 2 hours after class let out. When we did we found a dry road that took us mostly home. We had to do some crazy route changes due to every low area being flooded.

When we got home (to our amazement) the basement had partially flooded so we had to deal with that. Blech! Ever clean up sewage at midnight? It is not fun.  However, we faired much better than others who had windows break out of their basement because of the water or just lost their whole house all together. I think I will be happy with our small flood and shut up.

The featured image on this page is by Karen Szulc who managed to snap a shot of the freeway I get on to go to work.  They sent dive teams down into it yesterday to make sure no one was in one of the many cars (about 32) under that water. If you look carefully you can see the over pass of the on ramp from one freeway to another. That overpass is about 18 feet high I believe. Further on down the embankment was torn away and there is a cave under the service drive.  I think that about 500 people were rescued from a Lowes shopping complex in one of the hard hit areas. It goes without saying that the area is still very much under water and drying out at this point.

Today I go back to class. I am hoping that my students are all okay and that none of them had anything really bad happen to them on that nasty Monday night.  I know we are not the only people ever hit by mother nature’s wrath but when it hits home it sticks and sticks hard.

Featured Image: I-75 at the I-696 interchange by Karen Szulc.




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JoDee is an adjunct faculty instructor of astronomy and physics at various colleges around her hometown in the midwest. When she is not trying to get her cat, Pixel, off of her laptop she is observing variable stars and researching black holes.


  1. August 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm —

    I am very glad you are ok and hope all your students are as well. We get a lot of snow where I am and I always say, “I want you in class, but don’t kill yourself to get here.”

  2. August 14, 2014 at 9:48 am —

    Thanks for the kind words. Things are getting better around here. Unfortunately, everyone here within at least 5 miles had flooded basements so the sides of the streets look like a pickers dream with all the crap on the curbs.

  3. August 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm —

    Wow. That’s crazy. Glad to hear you folks are ok. I found a video from a local news station of that interchange:

    At ~1:00 in it starts zooming in and you can see a sign that says a bridge has 14′ 6″ clearance, and the sign is only a few feet above the water.

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