Thursday, June 12, 2008

Second Week of June

I used to be afraid of fire but now I know what water can do and it is terrible.

My town was hit with a 100 year flood eclipsing the water level set by the flood of 1913 but not quite to the level of the 500 year flood. Most of the southern half of my state and the state next to me has been declared a disaster area. This week for us has been a time of horror as we listened to the stories of others and their experiences and gladness that our home was far enough that it was not touched by the waters.

There are three creeks that go through the small city I live in and most of the time you never really notice them. But last Saturday they completely cut us off from the rest of town. Our hospital had to be evacuated and they say it may be as much as five months before it is up and operating again. This is a magnet hospital and is the main hospital in our area. We have had the Red Cross, the National Guard, the Marines, Homeland Security and FEMA running around our community and neighboring towns and cities trying to help us out.

Saturday

We woke to a downpour. It didn't seem too bad just a lot of rain (we later learned that it was around twelve inches). By mid-morning the rain was done and we had water in our basement. We quickly moved things, used the shop-vac to suck it up and the fans to dry things out. Not too bad this happens every few years when the gutters haven't been cleaned out and we have a downpour.

The day went on, we worked in the garden. Around 4:00 my husband's supervisor called and told us that there was flooding up in the town to the north of us but not a lot at that point. My
best friend called and asked me to take her son for a while so she and her husband could have a "date." I told her that the waters were up and they might have a hard time getting home but if she was OK with it that we would take him.

At 5:00, she dropped him off. Fifteen minutes later our hospital was starting to fill up with water but we did not know this at the time. We got another call from my husband's supervisor saying that the flooding was really bad up where he lives and that we might want to turn on the news.

6:00 my husband's manager called to say that it was really bad in the neighborhood behind them and that they were taking people out of the neighborhood in dump trucks.

6:30 my friend calls me frantic because she doesn't know if she can get back to us because all the roads leading from her side of town to where we were at were flooded out. Her husband is allowed by the police to make a go for it and they drive through a foot and a half deep waters over the bridge in front of the hospital to get to our house. They make it but the hospital now has a basement full of water and it is over a foot deep on the first floor. They are in the middle of evacuating the hospital.

My friend and her husband have to travel and hour south before they are able to find a bridge that has been flooded over yet to cross to the side of town that their house is on.

7:00 We take water down to the rehab patients who are waiting for a bus to take them to shelter. They have been evacuated from the hospital, are sitting in the parking lot of the closed up gas station, hot and disoriented.

My husband also leaves to let my mom's friend's dog into her house because she can't get home and will be spending the night at my mom's house. When my husband arrives there is a river of rapids going through the neighborhood. Some people have water coming in the back door and going out the front. This woman is lucky and only has wet carpet. My husband spends the next hour putting all her stuff upstairs so that it doesn't get wet.

At some point my son-in-law showed up and dropped out all the stuff in his vehicle in my driveway. He is an LPN and it was left to him to make the decision on whether or not to evacuate the medicaid nursing home. They got tired of waiting for buses and used their personal vehicles to evacuate to the local high school gym.

The rest is a blur--the ambulances, the police cars, the buses, pick-up trucks full of hospital equipment, dump trucks, army trucks all passing by my house as they evacuated the hospital and the helicopters, oh the helicopters sometimes 4 circling at a time.

When my husband finally came home dusk was falling. We had heard that our water might be shut off but otherwise had no other information. Our cable was out and so we listed to the radio. The only information they had was what others were phoning in and they were without power. The DJ had his family including his dogs there because he lives across the street from the hospital and was flooded out. The radio station was running on a generator and they were using cigarette lighters to read by.

As we went to bed, we did not know if we would get a knock on the door to evacuate or not. We slept together and didn't go to sleep until after midnight when the helicopter traffic finally slowed down. Luckily, we did not get a knock on our door but a friend of mine got one at two in the morning and they were evacuated to another neighborhood. Luckily, their house didn't flood but they live a lot further from the creek than people in the back of their subdivision.

My English professor has flooding in his basement.
A friend lost everything in their basement including all the children's book, toys, curriculum and her business.
My friend helped a woman who lives in a bad part of town who had flooding in her basement and the first floor of her home. They fled from their house with the clothes on their backs.
My husband helped in a home where they had flooding in the basement and the first two feet of the first level. This is a young family, active in their church who were redoing this home sometimes one window at a time.
Our CVS pharmacy employees had to be evacuated by boat if they did not go out the drive-up window.
A man, who helps the widow woman behind us, and his wife lost their vehicles and their house and had to be rescued from their roof with their dog.

The list could go on and on and on.

1 comment:

School for Us said...

Thanks for sharing this story with us. It is such a tragedy, but it is wonderful how people are helping other people.

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