Connie Bouton’s home on Bingham Avenue doesn’t have a basement, and her sump pump couldn’t keep up Tuesday.
The water rushed in.
Bouton lives a block from Beloit Avenue in a low-lying neighborhood on Janesville’s southeast side plagued by flooding.
“It was pouring in. I’ve never seen anything happen so fast,” Bouton said. “People don’t believe you when you call them and say, ‘Hey, I’m getting flooded down here.’ They think you’re joking.”
The Gazette posted a video Tuesday of Bouton wading through waist-high water as she held her Yorkshire terrier. She had to flee her house and shut off the power. The water was just too much.
She had another dog to rescue, a mastiff, that she went back and retrieved with a friend.
Dee Patt lives in the same neighborhood in a home with a basement furnished with fresh carpet, scattered chairs and piled-on storage containers. She didn’t see a drop of water during Tuesday’s flooding.
Patt raised the lower-level of her basement about 18 inches and installed sump pumps after the basement first flooded in 1978. It hasn’t flooded since.
She has lived there since 1968 and said the area floods frequently.
She learned a hard lesson in 1978.
“We got smart and got sump pumps,” she said.
Steve Peck lives behind Patt on Putnam Avenue near Delavan Drive. Even though he installed three sump pumps after the 2008 flooding, three to four inches of water accumulated in his basement Tuesday, he said.
“We’re getting there,” Peck said. “For some reason, I think this house is the worst. We just collect it.”
It’s a year-round struggle against flooding in the area, residents said. The worst is usually in the spring. Without sump pumps, the houses would flood at least once a year, they said.
Loie Bright lives across the street from Patt on Beloit Avenue. Like Peck, she installed sump pumps after the 2008 floods. Her basement hasn’t flooded since.
“I run the pumps,” she said. “If I didn’t run the pumps, I suppose I would flood every year. It is what it is.”
It all goes back to the flood of 2008, Peck said. He thinks it did something to the groundwater.
“The water table came up in ‘08, and it hasn’t gone back down,” he said. “In ‘08, (the water) was around for so long, it just filled up (the groundwater). There’s just nowhere else for the water to go.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least three other homes in the neighborhood equipped with sump pumps still were pumping water from their basements. But even though these houses tend to flood easily, the flooding of the roads was unusual Tuesday, Bright said.
“The corner—I’ve never seen it like that, like it was yesterday,” Bright said. “I sat out on the porch watching the water rescue.”
The Janesville Fire Department was called to the Beloit and Delavan intersection twice Wednesday to help stranded vehicles, Deputy Chief Bill Ruchti said.
“Yesterday, the water was very deep there,” Ruchti said, calling the flooding “unprecedented.”
Much of the water had either receded from the neighborhood or turned to ice by Wednesday afternoon.
The water at Bouton’s house had mostly receded by Wednesday. Her hardwood floors were left unscathed, and none of her belongings were damaged, “just wet,” she said.
“I came down here for a peaceful life,” she said. “Everybody comes down here to visit me because it’s like a campground. Nobody even knew I was down here in a flood zone.
“I learned a lot, now. I’m going to get a pair of yellow boots so when I’ve got to shut off my electricity, I’m not standing in water when I do it.
“And I’m going to get a canoe. I’m not joking.
“I’m getting one so if this happens again, I can get out of here.”