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Welcome to Oaklandon Saturday, December 05 2020 @ 04:26 PM EST

The Curse of Oaklandon

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I have been enjoying the uncovering of information about the town of Oaklandon for several years now. Little did I know that a deep, dark mystery was lurking just below the surface of my little parcel of Earth here on the outskirts of Paradise (Camp Paradise that is.)

I enjoy lake-front property - I presume - as much as the next guy; in fact, on one rainy morning I awoke to discover my front yard had transitiond into a pond and I had to wonder if the addition of Koi might not enhance this new feature.

Drainage issues are nothing new to this area. In fact, the street out front; "Broadway Street", was originally called "Canal Street" in the early days of this town's history according to Paul Hamilton in a history of Oaklandon published in 1972:

"The Oaklandon community ... suffered greatly from the paving of Road 67. ... Somehow, the engineers did not properly plain the drainage, and then the state and county road men never corrected the matter; and the present 'Canal Street' resulted ... Today, that street is known as Broadway."

I have actually been concerned for some time about the surface grade of the property and have been working to direct water away from the foundation of the house, in an effort to prevent basement flooding; a very real threat, should the sump pump ever fail*. The collection of water along our sunken front sidewalk was nothing new but this flooding was extreme and was a clear sign that something had to be done about it.

In the last couple of years I had noticed that what was once thought to be a groundhog hole in the front yard, was opening up into a full-fledged sink-hole. In an effort to perform my civic duty I had placed a traffic cone over the steadily growing opening in the Earth. We ultimately reached out to the utility companies once we noticed this hole was opening up next to what appeared to be a drain pipe/sewer tile.

It was while enjoying the view across the "lake" that I noticed the standing water was actually swirling at the site of the traffic cone and this apparent draining-of-the-swamp action had me concerned that the void below the surface of my front yard must truly be massive to allow all this water to slowly disappear from view.

We never heard back from the utility companies, then one day - by chance - we noticed a city inspector at our neighbors property and approached him after he was finished with his assignment over there. We showed him the sink-hole and expressed our concerns. He photographed the situation and filled out a report that he said he would submit on our behalf and added, "If this were my property I would be out here digging this up to see what's going on." ... Wise words.

The Dig
Snapshots courtesy Dara DeBurger

The Cure


This exercise has brought to mind growing up in the city and occasionally having to clear the storm sewer grates at the curb of leaves and debris to prevent (or remedy) flooded neighborhood streets. Remember the "Adopt a Drain" program?

Of course, the torrential rains have ceased since the completion of this project but a couple of steady rains have demonstrated the new hole-in-the-yard has the ability to take away the collecting water as fast as it accumulates. I'm thinking my sump pump can now take a much needed break since my soil has no reason to become as saturated as it surely had been prior to this exciting adventure into the unknown.


Adopt a Drain


* and fail it has... Our home has one of the few basements in the area; when I first saw the property, there was a full three feet of standing water in the cellar. Once power was restored to the home however, the installed sump pump kicked in and completely drained the "indoor swimming pool" in short order. Through the years I have had to replace a few sump pumps while standing in ankle-deep water and have honed the technique of swapping bad pump for good pump down to a science.

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