Monday, May 10, 2010

Review - The Flood pt. 1: The way-aking is the hardest part

The night before the major flooding there was already noticeable rising in creeks and streams in the area. At one point it looked like it might already be getting bad. But the rain stopped for awhile and the streets dried up again. It was pretty late already, around 12 I believe, when my brother and I took a drive to the park out behind our place. The baseball diamond was already flooded, but not to the extent it would be. It was dark but I still tried to snap a few pictures and grab some video. Unfortunately I don't have the equipment anymore to transfer my camera's video, so any video I post will be from my brother's Blackberry.

It's not the easiest to see, but the water covered most of the park. However it was already receding back into the stream. 

My brother worked at a motel that offered cheap weekly rates. He worked there for several years as assistant manager and had an apartment in the back. For a time I had also worked there and I still lived there with him. The motel geographically is about forty feet higher than the park, right on the other side of what is normally a very low and safe creek. It sits on the back side of the motel, a quiet little section with only one real apartment. Ours. At this point I wasn't worried about it flooding like it did. There were supposed to be other storms moving through, but it wasn't predicted to do anywhere near the record numbers  it did. 

Still, other parts of the state were already flooded, so it seemed like a good idea to keep watch for awhile. My brother and I stayed up till about five in the morning waiting to see if the rain would resume. When it seemed like all was quiet we finally went to sleep. A few hours later we were awoken by the housekeeper pounding on the door. My brother threw on some clothes and headed out, I stumbled about in fog trying to wave off the dreams that were struggling to pull me back into sleep. I managed to get up and dressed, while my brother shot this with his phone.

About two minutes after he shot that, I had my camera out and snapped the following pictures.

That should give you an idea of how quick the water was coming up. I had charged my camera only shortly the night before so I could film the park. I barely had a charge so I had to conserve what I shot. I can hear all the photographers out there yelling at me to always keep your camera charged and ready to go. Believe me, I've been kicking myself. Especially since a few years back I'd made sure to have my camera charged so I could film a tornado that almost took us out. But that's a story for another day.

When my brother saw his truck the water level was barely low enough that if he had gone then he might have gotten it out. Instead he came back to get me. In the two minutes I took to grab the laptop, my wallet, and the camera, the water had risen too high to get the truck out. We opted to head towards the front office and higher ground. 

Around, people stood in the doorways looking on. They watched as the water rose, but didn't seem to understand the severity. I told who I passed by to head up. My brother much more forceful than I, yelled at them. This at least made some of them get into motion. Before I stepped into the parking lot, which was already a foot and a half high, I passed by several rats, struggling to get into the people's rooms. I had a momentary flash, remembering a stupid study I'd learned in 7th grade science about how long a rat could keep swimming till it found ground. I believe it was a study on adrenaline. It didn't matter though, so I quickly brushed it out of my head and stepped into the water that was surely a mix of river, rain, and sewage. 

The water rose higher as we walked. I stumbled around, trying not to fall in. I knew the lot well, or thought I did. Underwater I seemed to find every pothole and curb. By the time we reached higher ground, the water I had just gone through was right about 3-4 feet high. Roughly in about 3 minutes time. The manager who had a room by the front office, was hanging out the door with his daughters looking on. He watched us wading through the flood, but didn't seem to understand what that meant for him. After both my brother and I yelled at him to get going, he looked at us and asked, "Is it really that serious?"

We left him, and as I understand it, he did actually move his car to "safety," which is to say, four parking spots over. Everyone we passed by, we told to leave. It was clear then that the entire complex would go under. The only logical next step was to head over to the Kroger's across the street. It was at this point, on the higher side of the property, that my brother shot the following with his phone:

Once across the street, I sat for a few minutes in a Subway shop, dripping wet. I found that despite everything, I really hadn't woken up, so I used this moment to fully become conscious. Then I was back outside. I shot a bit of video that I wish I could show here but, as I said, I no longer have the hardware for that. The road was quickly filling up with water even as others continued to cross. It was even starting to pour into the Kroger's lot. As Kroger's had locked it's doors against any people fleeing the flood, it was decided we'd head over to the Best Western across the side street. We figured we'd all get a room there on a higher floor. As we trudged onward, a little group now, the water behind kept rising.

More tomorrow in part 2


  1. That sounds crazy. I've never been in a situation like that, so I can only imagine what that had to have been like. It sounds pretty adventurous, though. The last part made it seem like a book. I'm excited to read the rest!

  2. Wow, that was quick, and probably more frightening than it even looked, especially knowing that your apartment was going under. I'm glad you guys were smart enough to know to evacuate.

    I'll be very interested in seeing your video whenever you get the hardware you need. Thanks for updating all of us.

  3. Holy crap, those pictures are crazy. I'm glad you and your brother are okay!

  4. I'm nervous. That's quite a cliff hanger.

    Kroger locked their doors???

  5. Wow, this is an incredible story. I don't know what the hell I would have done. It's so scary :( The site of the parking lot and the way you could see the cars tires under that water, there is no way you guys would have been able to drive off, I don't think :(

    Ugh, that's typical of a store going into a panic and locking up. I remember on 9/11 being kicked out of of a McDonald's NOWHERE near downtown - it was near my apartment and it was later in the day. Commuters were stranded for a bit and a friend and I went to there for a burger and just to talk and after a few minutes the owner kicked everyone out and locked up. It was so odd.

  6. Man... I've never seen water rise that fast. I know it sucks to lose your stuff, but I'm very glad you both got out. I looked at that and thought 'what would I do?' Had a mini-panic attack.

    But I did have to laugh at the guy who passed by and asked for a light. Good to have those priorities straight...

  7. That was scary. I'm sorry you had to go through this. As humans, we really aren't in control...

  8. Yikes--very scary. Mother Nature can be a frightening being.

  9. That was interesting. You really brought me into the whole crisis and educated as well as informed.

  10. Abbie, It's a four post series. I had to try and hook ya' somehow. lol

    Rep, my video is pretty amazing. Short, because my battery was running flat, but I still got some amazing shots. Whenever i manage to get it transfered I will send you a copy

    Amy, thanks. It was pretty crazy taking them. Very surreal.

    Cotton, yeah, a couple went to buy waters, and the guy had locked up and refused to let anyone in. Just as well, the place flooded majorly.

    Kristy, I really didn't have time to grab much. I was kicking myself afterwards for not trying to save things. In reality though, I just didn't have the time.

    Pat, you should see the video I shot a few years back of a tornado.

    Sadako, Yes, yes she is.

  11. What a nightmare. Sounds like kids or the other ignorant people who thought it was no big deal could have easily lost their lives. I'm glad you and your brother are okay. Never mind all the great footage, stay safe FIRST.

  12. Wow that is crazy. You never think things can get so out of hand so quickly when dealing with rain and floods. It's truly amazing to see the force of mother nature.

  13. that sucks dude. At least your safe and blogging again a little. you should of built an ark.

  14. It's amazing what the forces of nature are capable of....sounds like a nightmare. When I read the part about how you thought you knew the lot well but managed to find every pothole and curb - it dawned on me that..yeah, that would be quite a challenge, not knowing what's underneath, and in the dark to boot. The mention of rats kinda skeeved me out, though. Being an animal lover, I'm not sure I'd know whether to try to save them or not! Ick.

  15. 3m sure redefines flash flood, when I heard flood I thought it was a "take your time to pack up and head out" type of thing, but that is sheer insanity man.. Im glad you were smart enough to get the f-bomb out before things got out of hand, otherwise you might have had to put that adrenaline lesson to use..

  16. That is one of the craziest things I've ever seen....

    I've been through earthquakes, but I've never seen anything like this....

    I'm glad you guys got out ok!


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