Friday, May 6, 2011

Flood Extravaganza, Day 1.

Here’s Day 1 of our story.
Around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 28th I was sitting in the break room at work. It had been raining off and on for about a week, and Thursday was supposed to be a pretty, clear day with no rain. When I had gone into work the night before, it was sprinkling a little bit but the drainage ditch that runs next to our house only had a trickle of water in it. That was not unusual, even though we had received massive amounts of rain over the past week. Rivers were flooding, and things were really bad for a lot of people, but the drainage ditch had always prevented our yard from getting too bad. It never held a lot of water for very long. So I was more than a little bit surprised when one of the guys I work with called me over to his table and told me that they were going door-to-door evacuating my town because of flooding. (Note: I'm not watching a lot of TV these days, so I've been relying a LOT on word-of-mouth and news apps on my phone for my news, especially since my computer stopped connecting to our wifi. And no, that's not a priority right now.) I called The Hubby, waking him up, and told him what was up, asked if anything was going on. During that conversation I learned that yep, the drainage ditch and all the ditches around our house were about full. One neighbor near us had hitched his camper up to his truck and was packing everything up, ready to go anytime. They had evacuated the nursing home down the street from us. I asked The Hubby if he wanted me to come home, and after discussing it I ended up staying at work with the understanding that he would keep me posted via text and let me know if I needed to leave. I let my supervisor know what was up in case I had to leave early, but I never heard anything. 

I checked my messages again when I was leaving work and had just received a text from him a half hour before saying that there were two or three inches covering the yard, and that he had taken the dog over to his parents’ house (they live in the same town but farther east, which was not flooded yet) because he won’t use the bathroom in water like that. He told me to be careful if I came back to the house, but after talking with him on the way home we decided it would be safer for me to head straight over to his parents’ house while he went on to work. I had doubted my car would even make it through the driveway with that much standing water. Once I got to the In-Laws’ house, I went immediately into the room where they were going to let me sleep. I burst into tears, thinking about my house, the cats, and having nothing but the clothes on my back, my purse, and my lunch box. Shut up, it's totally a grown-up lunch box. How had all this happened in just a few hours? And I stressed over the fact that I was seriously in need of sleep, because I hadn’t been sleeping very well the past few days. After a few minutes I was able to make my way into the living room with his parents to discuss what was going on and figure out a plan of action. Around 7 or 7:30 we hopped in the car and headed over to my house to pack up some of our things. We couldn’t even safely get onto the road in front of my house to get to the driveway so we parked the car on the road beside my house instead (I live on a corner), giving us that much farther to walk in the water to get to the side door that we use to get into the house (the front door won’t open). The water was almost to the top of my rain boots in some spots as I walked through the driveway, or our closest estimation of where the driveway is supposed to be anyway. It covered the bottom porch step. 

I kept running around in circles inside, thinking of all the things that I should get. I decided to pack a few days’ worth of stuff, just enough to get us through. I thought I was probably packing too much stuff. Still, I filled our three bags with clothes, toiletries, and “essential” electronics and accessories-phones, chargers, laptop, and my Kindle. I didn’t take the kitties, since I didn’t think we'd be gone that long, and I didn't think they’d appreciate me carrying them across such a large body of water. It didn’t even cross my mind that we did still have one pet carrier hidden away somewhere. I loved on them for a while before we left, but my heart still broke. I told myself that this probably wasn’t a big deal, we’d be able to go back and get more stuff later if we needed to, and the kitties’ food was at least on the counter up off the ground. We’d be back home before we knew it. 

We waded back to the car, arms full of stuff, and went back to their house. Now Hubby’s sister, her boyfriend, and her baby were staying at the In-Law’s as well… They live down the street from us, and were getting flooded as well. I know it’s hard to sleep in a house with a baby, and this was a full house, with a lot of stuff going on, but after an hour or so I tried to get some sleep anyway. While I was down for a nap (all too short of one…) they went back to my house and SIL’s house to check on the situation and move things up higher just in case the water did get into the house. My MIL went to help her parents (who live across the street from us) by bringing their dog to her house, then working on getting her parents into a wheelchair-accessible hotel room. When I woke up I learned that the water had risen almost a foot since that morning when I was there, was now up to the porch itself, and was still rising. Still, I thought we’d be able to go back for the lock box with our important documents and other SUPER-IMPORTANT things like that which I had of course forgotten. I hadn’t even grabbed the sentimental-value stuff, because I wasn’t thinking about it being that serious. Also, maybe on some level I didn't want to get yelled at for grabbing pictures but no socks, pajamas, or our toothbrushes. My mind was in a total fog of denial. I simply could not comprehend this, and still can’t.

So when The Hubby got home from work that day (he did end up leaving early) we put on our boots and started walking, not wanting to bother with a vehicle down the streets clogged with people and other vehicles, including emergency vehicles and the National Guard. We made it to about 3 or 4 blocks away from our house before we stopped. We could see where our street was supposed to be, but the water was just too deep. Someone even came down that street driving a big SUV, and the water was up to the tops of their tires. We stood there for a moment, then turned around. 

We didn't know what to do, since we didn't know whether his parents' house would get flooded too, or if we were supposed to evacuate, or anything. All we had to go on was the rumor mill, and it was working full time cranking out more bullshit than facts. We heard that a local organization backed by FEMA was providing free hotel stays for up to 3 nights, so we contacted them to hook that up for ourselves. Then we just had to wait to hear back from them. In the meantime, we wanted to go ahead and leave town, so we went to stay with a friend of mine until we heard about the hotel. Not knowing anything about what was going to happen, how things were going to work out, or what kind of condition my house (and my kitties!) were in, and having had almost no sleep, I went on to work that night. There was nothing I could do anywhere else, and I figured I needed the distraction, and I was definitely going to be needing the paycheck. To say that night at work was "rough" would be a dramatic understatement, even when I got the call back about the hotel stay. We decided we (Hubby, really) would go on and stay at my friend's house that night, then we'd go to the hotel the next day. And so ended Day 1.

I won't split the rest of it into Day 2 and 3, etc., but this will have to be continued in another post for now... 

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