Families on Viola Street in Appleton dig out after flooding crashed their Fourth of July


APPLETON — Shari Moscinski has lived on North Viola Street for 50 years, surrounded by lots of fond memories and love, all nestled against her favorite backdrop: Their house.

On Friday, while they weren’t home, the house flooded.

Rain poured outside when they weren’t home, and they came back to the shock. Not able to get to their house right away, due to the flooded streets, she waited as her husband went to Ace Hardware to rent a pump.

When they finally got inside, the basement had four feet of water.

“It wasn’t until the morning that we went down there and just cried,” Moscinski said.

Shari Moscinski sorts through water damaged personal items in her basement Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents, including the Moscinski family who lives along N. Viola St., experienced flash flooding July 5.Shari Moscinski sorts through water damaged personal items in her basement Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents, including the Moscinski family who lives along N. Viola St., experienced flash flooding July 5.

Shari Moscinski sorts through water damaged personal items in her basement Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents, including the Moscinski family who lives along N. Viola St., experienced flash flooding July 5.

Moscinski had to throw away about 90% of the items in her basement, including many sentimental valuables like family photos and heirlooms.

“I have two bins that have about 100 books in them,” Moscinski said. “I was a school teacher and I love books, and oftentimes the grandkids would come in before Christmas to pick out a book and we’ll read [together].”

As of Monday afternoon, when she spoke to The Appleton Post-Crescent, she had not yet recovered the books from the basement.

One saving grace for Moscinski is that a small Christmas tree made out of her father’s military jacket, crafted by her sister, was saved and spent the day drying out in the sun.

Isaac Moscinski lays out Christmas items to dry at the home of his grandparents Dave and Shari Moscinski Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents, including the Moscinski family who lives along N. Viola St., experienced flash flooding July 5. At right is Moscinski’s grandson Isaac Moscinski.Isaac Moscinski lays out Christmas items to dry at the home of his grandparents Dave and Shari Moscinski Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents, including the Moscinski family who lives along N. Viola St., experienced flash flooding July 5. At right is Moscinski’s grandson Isaac Moscinski.

Isaac Moscinski lays out Christmas items to dry at the home of his grandparents Dave and Shari Moscinski Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents, including the Moscinski family who lives along N. Viola St., experienced flash flooding July 5. At right is Moscinski’s grandson Isaac Moscinski.

Moscinski credits her family for supporting her during this difficult time, as her son and grandson are helping her clean out the basement and photograph everything for insurance purposes.

Like Moscinski, most of North Viola Street’s residents have been throwing out all damaged stuff for days. Filling up giant red dumpsters that had to be replaced multiple times throughout the weekend.

Youa Vang, a stay-at-home mother, and her husband, Kou, had to be evacuated via a blow-up kayak provided by the fire station on Friday.

Kou and Youa Vang are evactuated from their home along N. Viola Street by the Appleton Fire Department during flash flooding Friday, July 5, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin.Kou and Youa Vang are evactuated from their home along N. Viola Street by the Appleton Fire Department during flash flooding Friday, July 5, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Kou and Youa Vang are evactuated from their home along N. Viola Street by the Appleton Fire Department during flash flooding Friday, July 5, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin.

“My father and mother-in-law were in the house [when it was raining],” Vang said. “They said it was just pouring and running so fast, and busted a window, so water just pour in the house.”

Vang explained that they didn’t lose anything sentimental, but they lost some necessities, like their freezer, washer and dryer. The family’s main concern was her daughter’s medical equipment.

Her daughter does dialysis at home and the water was so high she was concerned about the electricity and dialysis fluid.

The shock didn’t hit Vang initially, but she explained that it hit the following day and realized “I [lost] a lot of things that you spend so much money to build up your life, and now it’s all gone.”

Tim Techlin has been living in the neighborhood since 2006 and has witnessed flooding there before, but nothing as bad as what happened on Friday.

An employee with SERVPRO removes debris from a home along N. Viola St., Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents experienced flash flooding July 5.An employee with SERVPRO removes debris from a home along N. Viola St., Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents experienced flash flooding July 5.

An employee with SERVPRO removes debris from a home along N. Viola St., Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents experienced flash flooding July 5.

“I’ve seen the water come all the way up almost to my steps just a couple of years ago,” Techlin said. “So you just stand there and you kind of think ‘Oh man, it’s another one of those times,’ and then within about 30 minutes it went from that to just rushing in.”

Techlin explained that the crawlspace under the garage sounded like a waterfall gushing in as he took videos and photos as evidence for insurance.

A few houses down, Bjorn Olson said about 20 minutes into the rain, his backyard looked like a little lake, and in the front, garbage cans were floating down the street. He and his two daughters ran down to the basement to get as much as possible off the floors, figuring it would only be a few inches of clear water.

Bjorn Olson throws out sewage damaged items from his basement Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents experienced flash flooding July 5.Bjorn Olson throws out sewage damaged items from his basement Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents experienced flash flooding July 5.

Bjorn Olson throws out sewage damaged items from his basement Monday, July 8, 2024, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Some Appleton residents experienced flash flooding July 5.

“Then my daughter yelled that the toilet was like shaking and gurgling,” Olson explained. “And then also we hear this [explosion] and then it was like the floodgates open and it was just pouring and it was all the brown sewer water.”

As Olson walked through the damaged basement, past family photos and pieces of furniture built by his father-in-law, he pointed to a wooden table and hopes it can be recovered.

Contact Abra Richardson via email arichardson@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: Appleton residents clean up homes, throw out memories after July 5 flooding



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