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Pinedale Online > News > July 2015 > Flash flood event hits Sommers Homestead Living History Museum

Flood at the Homestead. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
Flood at the Homestead
Garage on left, cellar in middle, Homestead house on right.

Flood water around garage. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
Flood water around garage

Yard Equipment. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
Yard Equipment
Bunkhouse on left. The irrigation ditch berm, running left to right on the west end of the property, acted like a dam to back up the flash flood water from the thunderstorm.

Wet playground. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
Wet playground

Chicken coups under water. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
Chicken coups under water

Ice House. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
Ice House

Around Meathouse. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
Around Meathouse
Ice House on left, meathouse in middle, Homestead house to right. Water didn't get into the Homestead house or underneath.

Due to the flash flood event, the Homestead will be closed for Rendezvous weekend, Friday & Saturday, July 10th & 11th. The Homestead will hopefully be open again the following weekend, July 17 & 18th.

A clean-up day is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14th starting at 9AM. Volunteers welcome and greatly appreciated! Dress to get dirty. Actual damage is minimal, but there is a lot of washing up to do!

Map to Homestead. Photo by Sommers Homestead.
Map to Homestead
The Homestead is located 13 miles southwest of Pinedale, 7.3 miles south on the East Green River Road.
Flash flood event hits Sommers Homestead Living History Museum
Minimal damage done; clean up day scheduled for July 14th
by Pinedale Online!
July 8, 2015

The Sommers Homestead Living History Museum was hit with a flash flood event on Monday afternoon, July 6th.

A strong thunderstorm caused localized torrential rain which flowed off the Mesa and filled gullies and overwhelmed culverts. Water overflowed across the East Green River Road and flooded across ranch corrals into the historical site property. The Ada Ditch served as an effective barrier dam, causing water to be unable to drain past, quickly ponding around the buildings at the Sommers Homestead site.

About a foot of rising water flowed into the garage, ice house and around the playground, 1-1/2 foot of muddy water flowed into the meat house, and the root cellar filled with 3-1/2 feet of water. The homestead house and bunk house are on higher ground and were undamaged. The barn, even though on much lower ground, was unaffected by the flood event, protected by being on the back side of the irrigation ditch.

Once the thunderstorm passed and the rain stopped, water levels began to drop fairly quickly. People on site at the ranch during the storm responded quickly wading through the lake water to get items in the flooded buildings up off the floors onto higher surfaces. Once the storm subsided, items that were in danger of being damaged by remaining wet were removed, wiped off and placed where they could safely dry out.

The next day, most of the standing water had subsided from the grounds and out of the buildings, with the exception of the underground cellar which had no outlet for the water to drain. Volunteers went in with pumps Wednesday morning and got the water out of the cellar.

The good news is that despite the muddy mess that is left, the actual damage is minimal. All the buildings that got water inside are structurally sound and can be hosed down to get the mud off the exterior and inside. All the items on display that were submerged are considered educational and most can be washed off, dried out, and will be fine to put back out on display. A number of signs will need to be replaced, which isnít too difficult or costly. All of the perishable food items in the cellar had to be tossed, but most of the items on the shelves were undamaged except for being submerged and just have a coating of mud that needs to be cleaned off.

This was a rare, localized flash flood event that was compounded by the irrigation canal, built in 1907, acting like a dam to prevent overflow water from moving past into drainage channels at that location. Family members recall a similar flash flood event occurring in 1980.

The flood water brought in a lot of mud and debris and spread it across the grounds, which will need to be cleaned up somehow. The depth of the mud flows varies in places and clean-up tactics are still being evaluated.

A work day is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14th to tackle the clean-up from Mondayís flash flood event. Anyone who would like to come out and help is welcome and would be greatly appreciated. Work will start at 9AM and go until done. With a lot of help, it could get done in a day. The hope is to get things cleaned up to be back operational for our Friday and Saturday regular open days.

People who can lift are needed to remove things from the garage, ice house and cellar to clear them out so the interiors can be hosed down inside and out. Helpers are needed with brooms and squeegies to sweep the water out of the buildings during the wash-down. Others are needed to wash and clean mud off individual items at wash bin stations. The cellar will be tricky, because helpers are needed to hose down as well as operate the pump in tight quarters to clear out the wash-down water. Helpers are also needed to sweep out and wash mud off the large wagons and farm equipment that are displayed around the grounds. Once cleaned, all these pieces of equipment will need to be lifted (strong helpers wanted) and placed on wooden blocks to get them up off the ground.

Helpful things to bring would be shovels, shop brooms, wisk brooms, lots of rags or old towels, cleaners, wheel barrow, rakes, floor squeegies, garbage bags. A chain saw would be helpful to cut the wood blocks to go under the equipment. Some of the items in the shop might need some kind of a lubricant or derusting treatment to apply to working parts that got submerged. We only have one hose to work with to spray down the buildings, so a mobile water tank and long hose would be really helpful to spray down the equipment spread around the property.

Come dressed to get dirty, wet and muddy. Some work will be best done with muck boots and rain gear/hat. Work gloves and rubber gloves might be helpful to protect hands. Even though the water has subsided and things have dried out a bit, the clean-up will involve hosing things down, creating more sticky mud all around again, so higher top boots that will keep feet dry moving around would probably be best. The mosquitoes are plentiful, so bug spray is a good idea, as well as sun screen. Bring a lunch/snack and a water bottle. Cold delicious water is available onsite from the Homestead water pump. There's a porta-potty onsite.

For more information, please contact Dawn Ballou, dawn@pinedaleonline.com, 307-360-7689 (cell or text).

Directions to the Homestead from Pinedale: The Homestead is located 13 miles southwest of Pinedale. From Pinedale, travel west on US 191 approximately 6 miles and turn south onto the East Green River Road at Trappers Point, just before the Trapper's Point Wildlife Overpass. Stay on the East Green River Road, a gravel road that follows the high bluffs for 7.3 miles (stay left at the road choices). The Homestead is at the turnoff for the Sommers Fishing Access road (the 2nd fishing access on that road). Watch for signs for the parking lot, the Homestead is on the west (right) side of the road.
______________________

The Sommers Homestead Living History Museum is owned and operated by the Sublette County Historical Society, a private non-profit, parent organization of the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale. The Homestead is entirely staffed by volunteers and is managed jointly by the SC Historical Society, Green River Valley Museum, and siblings Jonita and Albert Sommers. It is open June, July & August, Fridays & Saturdays from 10AM to 3PM. Private tours can be arranged on other days. Admission is by donation.



Related Links
  • Sommers Homestead Living History Museum - Facebook page

  • Pictures above and to right with blue background were taken by Jonita Sommers during the storm event Monday afternoon, July 6th. Pictures with brown background were taken by Dawn Ballou Monday evening, several hours after the storm event. The water had already begun to subside.

    Garage. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
    Garage

    Playground. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
    Playground

    Bunk house. Photo by Jonita Sommers.
    Bunk house
    Compare this picture to the one at right. The water receded significantly in just a couple of hours between these two photos taken on the same day. Picture at right was taken a couple of hours later in the evening after storm was over.

    Mud flow. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Mud flow
    The main flood water came in from the left to the right in front of the bunk house. There is a lot of mud and debris flow that will need to be cleaned up somehow.

    Mud flow. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Mud flow

    Flood path. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Flood path

    Mud path. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Mud path
    View looking north towards the Garage and Homestead house from the Bunkhouse where the main flood wash came into the property.

    Water and mud. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Water and mud

    View from Bunkhouse. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    View from Bunkhouse

    Garage Cellar House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Garage Cellar House

    Cellar. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Cellar

    Cellar full of muddy water. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Cellar full of muddy water

    Water 3-1/2 feet deep. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Water 3-1/2 feet deep

    Water in cellar over two sheves. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Water in cellar over two sheves

    Under water. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Under water

    Cellar and Garage. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Cellar and Garage

    Looking out from Ice House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Looking out from Ice House

    In front of Ice House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    In front of Ice House

    Ice House lake. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Ice House lake

    View of front from top of cellar mound. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    View of front from top of cellar mound

    Behind Ice House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Behind Ice House
    View from top of cellar mound.

    Ice House and main House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!.
    Ice House and main House
    View from top of cellar mound.

    Lake. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Lake
    Bunkhouse in background, garage and cellar on the right.

    Muddy path. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Muddy path
    Ice house on left, meathouse in middle, ADA ramp and homestead house on far right.

    Ice House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Ice House

    Water in Ice House. Photo by Pinedale Online.
    Water in Ice House
    Got about 1 foot of water inside

    Wagon. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Wagon
    Rescued to higher ground

    Turned over bench. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Turned over bench

    Garage. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Garage
    Got about 1 foot of water inside

    Behind Garage. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Behind Garage

    Drain bubble. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Drain bubble

    About a foot of water. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    About a foot of water

    Garage floor. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Garage floor

    Wet pony. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Wet pony

    Piles up high. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Piles up high
    Jonita and Albert Sommers braved wading the water during the flooding to rescue items up off the floor in the Garage.

    Garage & Cellar. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Garage & Cellar

    Yard lake. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Yard lake
    Garage in background

    Meat House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Meat House
    Got about 1-1/2 foot of water inside

    High water mark - Meat House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    High water mark - Meat House

    Behind Meat House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Behind Meat House

    Looking towards Bunkhouse. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Looking towards Bunkhouse

    Edge of Bunkhouse. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Edge of Bunkhouse
    The Bunkhouse didn't get wet.

    Yard equipment. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Yard equipment

    ADA Ramp. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    ADA Ramp

    South side of Homestead house. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    South side of Homestead house
    Wet and muddy, but out of the main flood

    In front of house. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    In front of house
    The Homestead house stayed dry

    Robin. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Robin
    Surveying her new lake-front property

    Playground. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Playground

    Around stock truck. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Around stock truck

    Swing - Playground. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Swing - Playground

    Chicken Coups. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Chicken Coups

    Teeter Totter. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Teeter Totter

    Swing - Playground. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Swing - Playground

    Flooding out front. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Flooding out front

    Overtopped road. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Overtopped road
     
    Pinedale Online > News > July 2015 > Flash flood event hits Sommers Homestead Living History Museum

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