Photographers' Blog

In too deep

April 24, 2013

Fox Lake, Illinois

By Jim Young

Heavy rains brought flooding to the Chicago area this week. Though most people were already starting the clean-up process, there was still some flooding just north of the city.

I headed up to see how they were coping since the Fox River had yet to crest. As I pulled into town, most of the area looked fairly dry but once you got closer to the lake, some of the streets were several feet under water. As I came around a corner, I could see an American flag hanging over a half-sunken retro soda machine sitting in what looked like a lake, but it was actually someone’s backyard.

The family seemed unusually calm about their circumstances. Though they had been stuck in the same flooded state for four days with more rain on the way, they had several layers of sandbags around their house and a couple of pumps going at full speed. They were just trying to hang in there and hope for the best.

The water level in the next area of town was a couple feet deeper. I put on my chest waders, grabbed one camera and a lens and slowly trudged through the water. Each step I took, the water seemed to creep higher and higher. One, two, three feet, and all the way up to my chest. I was not sure what I was walking on but it was definitely not a road and the water was too deep and murky to tell where I was going as my feet started slowly sinking into the mud. Making my way back down the street, I could see an orange object bobbing in the water. Someone had used a glove as a kind of β€œmarker” by tying a rope to the end of it.

While holding my phone in one hand, and $8,000 worth of camera equipment in the other, I tried to keep my camera just above the waterline to shoot the picture. But I was starting to slip as I rested my chin on the water to look through the viewfinder. Yes, this was definitely not a good idea. I don’t think I could explain trashing all this equipment for an instagram…

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