Although many flood-prone areas in the Northwest suburbs suffer over and over again, the damage done last Wednesday to Rosemary and Ed Sebastian's Lake Zurich cul-de-sac was as unexpected as it was terrible.
For the first time in their 19 years on Stanton Court, they experienced flooding -- and in the worst way.
But the cleanup help they began receiving from complete strangers Friday and Saturday was equally amazing to them.
"I don't even know most of these people," Rosemary Sebastian said Saturday. "They're coming from churches and neighborhoods. These people are just wonderful! I'm in shock! They were coming yesterday, but I didn't know where to start."
The rain started falling at 3 a.m. Wednesday, and the rising waters didn't let up until the Sebastians and their daughter had to be evacuated by boat around 11 a.m. from a home later declared uninhabitable.
"We noticed in the cul-de-sac that it was coming down faster than the sewers could handle," Rosemary Sebastian said.
She moved her car from the garage to a higher point in the cul-de-sac, which proved a good decision. But her husband's car took its place in the garage, which was not as fortunate.
Water in the retention pond behind the house gradually rose up their lawn, over the patio, into the family room and down the basement stairs.
"It was like a river going down!" Rosemary said.
Four feet of water ended up in the basement, damaging or destroying virtually everything that was down there.
Arrangements were made to stay in a hotel Wednesday night, but the family went back to the house to check on the progress of the receding waters. Though there was some improvement, it wasn't until Thursday morning that they could begin to assess their damages.
There are six houses in the cul-de-sac, most of them similarly affected. Two were in an even worse state than the Sebastians, and even by Saturday only one house on the street was livable.
The volunteers -- from kids to adults -- helped cut up and dispose of carpeting, carried out damaged furniture, cleaned up as best they could and even brought home clothing touched by the floodwaters to be laundered.
They also brought food for the families who had lost so much in their waterlogged homes.
Rosemary Sebastian said one of her neighbors has lived on the street for 28 years, and even she had never seen a flooding problem like this before.
Though Rosemary's car was parked far enough away to escape damage, her husband's car in the garage and her daughter's in front of the house weren't so lucky.
She's hopeful, but not yet certain, that insurance will help cover the damage to the family's house and vehicles. She herself has been laid off from her job, her husband is retired and their daughter is disabled.
She knows another week or two of work lies ahead before the family can even move back into the house, but much more will be required after that to restore it to what it was.