In the wake of Hurricane Ike, our area received a spectacular amount of rain, all the way up here in the midwest. Chicagoland got anywhere between 6-10 inches of rain, all in two days. Not like being in the eye of the storm, but for us it was really something; rivers in the area crested at record levels.

Yesterday, the rain finally slowed to almost a complete stop by 3 p.m. and our family decided to head to the heart of our suburb (EDITED: Let me reiterate, we live in the Suburbs of Chicago; I’m not talking about the actual City of Chicago in this post…), the downtown area, to check out the river.

Our downtown is one of the many pride points that the citizens carry around. It is quaint but vibrant. It is a mecca for shopping, both national chain stores and mom and pop operations (though sadly, rents are so high that those are more rare these days), as well as restaurants (mostly one-location places, but some chain eateries as well). Our parades are held here. People meet here for coffee. We have a beach that was built in an old quarry here. Concerts take place here. Our major sledding hill is here. Our festivals are here. We are drawn to it because it is really the heartbeat of this large city that has a small-town feel. Whenever I go downtown, though our population is a little more than 140,000 I *always* see people I know. And the jewel of our downtown is the Riverwalk. So it was no surprise to us that, when we parked our car and walked down the street, we were only four of many, many locals who were drawn to the area.

And what we saw? Shocking. The river had swelled to something we had never seen before. It touched the bottoms of the bridges. It overflowed into our beach area. It was heartbreaking; not in a hurricane-catastrophic-devastation-and-loss kind of way, but more like seeing your child laying in bed, ill. The sickness goes away, but while it’s there? Ugh.

We knew it wasn’t going to look good when we saw this operation going on:

The bridges over the river are great backdrops for many of our photos of the boys over the years, like this one:

This is what the river looks like, normally from a bridge:

Here’s another normal view of a bridge:

Yesterday, it looked like this:

Here is the pavilion where we sometimes have Boy Scout meetings, dry:

And wet:

The beach, during the summer:

Yesterday, the beach was flooded up to the high dive:

And almost to the top of the new slide:

The boys also pose for a lot of photos in front of (and sometimes ON) this massive tree that is on the other side of the river. We love this tree.

Though we couldn’t get to the other side of the river, I imagine that the tree was taking a bath up to its ankles yesterday. Hard to imagine.

As we walked further down the street, we saw that one of our restaurants was in trouble.

We stood there, shaking our heads, hoping that as the river got to its highest point, there would be no lasting damage.

As we slowly made our way back to the car knowing that the water would recede and things would get back to normal in a couple of days, it still seemed fitting for that very moment that, coming from the outside speakers of another restaurant was the chorus of this song.