“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

6.13.2010

Floodblogging on a Hot Dry - if you don't count the humidity - Day

A picture is worth so many words and sits there in silence, no words to decipher, no italics needed to make a point, but today a post without pictures, the need to be back in the writing game strong. A butterfly flitters on the opposite side of the front door, only a pane of glass separating me from the the black and gold of those wings; yesterday two red dragonflies beckoned me to the yard, swooping by the door several times before bumping against it, knocking on the door, not wanting to come in, but wanting me up and off this couch and into the heat. And just now, a robin against the door, whompfhhhh! - at least I think a robin, I saw only a flash of red before it flew off a bit drunkenly. Perhaps a cardinal - I will check for feathers.

It is hot out there - as Matthew Broderick said of Mississippi in Biloxi Blues, it is Africa hot, but really it is more Louisiana hot. I know so little of Africa, so much more of Louisiana. The humidity is not quite invisible, it lays across the orange lilies, I can see it heavy, heavy, pushing them over just a bit with the extra summertime weight. Next door Amber walks by with her own extra summertime weight, she grows bigger with each week, a Texas summertime pregnancy must surely be miserable, but she knows now whether it is a boy or girl - I will ask later. The dragonflies are out there again, those lilies one of their resting spots; they fly round and round and up and down, into the creek and up and out and all over again. I have said this before, it is the same every summer, and I watch them soar across the street and back again, a small bump against the door just now, and back into the creek, always the same, always the same, but always different.

We had a flood this week. I laugh when I look at my Facebook profile, my status on Wednesday morning reading "roof is leaking and i can hear the rain hitting the ceiling over my head, one drop at a time, with a soft, soft, sleep inducing, quite pleasant thud", followed that evening by the link to this blog, the post "Reading in the Rain", followed the next morning by this exchange between the lovely, lovely Katie and I, she at the coffee shop 2 or 3 blocks away, me here at home:

Me: uh oh. when i can see the water rushing down the creek while sitting on the couch . . . what is that? 8 feet of water where there is usually an inch or so? (Thursday at 8:20am)
She: I hear we are suppose to get 8 more inches of rain. (Thursday at 8:22am)
Me: am i allowed to cuss? (Thursday at 8:22am)
She: oh hell yeah! (Thursday at 8:24am)
Me: i moved the tornado drawing off the floor. :) trying to see what else might get hurt if i flood (Thursday at 8:24am)
Me again: creek is down a couple of feet already. a good sign. (Thursday at 8:25am)
She: thank god, hoping it goes all the way down. I have about 5 leaks goin on at the studio. rug and couch is soaked. dern it! (Thursday at 8:26am)
Me: omg. smith county is getting the worse per: channel 7 news. LOTS of flooded areas. (Thursday at 8:28am) Note: my omg referred to Katie's couch, not the weather report; it is a velvet couch, quite beautiful, the color of sage and lemons smooshed together.
Me again: tyler getting the worse of smith county (Thursday at 8:29am)
Me yet again: i'm afraid to go to work - LOL! - my office ceiling may have given way. (Thursday at 8:30am)
She: well....crap. (Thursday at 8:31am)
Me: the creek must be way down - i can't see any water now. is your couch ruined? (Thursday at 8:33am)
She: no, just a little wet. I woke up at 4:30 and went up there and put flower vases and pots out to catch the water. (Thursday at 8:36am)
Me: i saw your headlights & wondered what was happening. glad it's not as bad as could've been (Thursday at 8:47am)
Me again: @#*&^*#$# - creek is up again. Man!! (Thursday at 8:50am)

At this point I realize others are listening in . . .
Kelly: Yikes! Hope you dry out soon... (Thursday at 8:51am)

. . . but I have no time to respond to anyone but Katie:
Me: bridge is flooded & water is coming from the back yard around y'alls' staircase to join. i'm getting everything off the floor (Thursday at 8:52am)
She: oh crap again! big tree fell down on college; the pretty yard that's on the north east corner of lindsey and college. (Thursday at 8:56am)

Sooz sends a message:
Dry in California...wish you were here... (Thursday at 9:00am)

But I am barely noticing at this time, speaking only to Katie, watching the water:
Me: front yard is totally underwater - the back side of the bridge is totally underwater
(Thursday at 9:01am)

Me again: man - so far the side that floods the house is okay but water is up to my front door got my boots outta the jeep. jeez - we got WAVES at my front door! (Thursday at 9:04am)
Me one more time: house is flooding (Thursday at 9:09am)

You really don't need pictures for that, do you? Luckily, I noticed the water coming into the kitchen in time to throw rugs and towels onto the floor and to my surprise, that worked. It kept the water at bay, away from the carpeted areas of the house. I have had much worse flooding with much less rain. This rain was huge - it's the most I've seen in 25 years. 10 inches or so quickly. I'd managed earlier, somewhere in the middle of that exchange with Katie, before the water was deep in the yard, to get to my Jeep and get my rain boots, and a good thing that was. When I noticed the kitchen was going to stay okay, I stepped outside to save one of Katie's lawn chairs, across the footbridge, in the front yard. One step into the yard and the water was almost to the top of my boots, rushing fast from around the house, under Katie's staircase, to merge with water rushing across the creek - it had overtopped - from the front and back yards of the empty house-with-the-red-door next door. The creek in that backyard had overtopped, sending water in the direction of us - the meeting of all those waters from different directions occurring 3 or 4 feet from my door causing those waves I'd mentioned to Katie. 18 inches high, splashing against the glass doors - I sat on the couch and watched because there was not much else I could do, the water not yet in my house, and when it was, it came from behind. But anyway, one step into the yard and that water physically moved me and I knew I wasn't stepping onto that bridge, at that point knee deep in rushing water; the entire yard knee deep in rushing water, rushing across the street, across Lyndi's yard and into the creek there - it is wider and deeper on that side of the street. Bye bye lawn chair.

40 minutes later I realized my computer was still on, Facebook still up, and there were comments from many folks, worried, concerned, all good friends. At lunch came a text message from Katie that the lake was gone - the lake on which, once upon a time, a few hours earlier, their lakehouse stood. No longer. The dam broke, and well, you know the rest, the monkey got choked, and they all went to heaven in a little rowboat . . . A crazy day. It required Mexican food and an afternoon of reading while washing all those rugs and towels.

I will cheat here and show you some pictures.
All photos by Robert Langham:


Our yard. If you look hard, you can see the flooded footbridge right there in the center of the image. The water is knee deep at this time, rushing into the creeks; the back side of the creek, to the right of the footbridge here was not yet overtopped. But soon.

Water rushing into our yard from next door. This tree is the tulip tree, she of the lovely pink blossoms in spring.

Another view. Front yard next door, heading toward our yard.

Next door again, between the garage and house. The creek in the back yard, normally 8 or 9 feet deep, has overtopped here by quite a bit, it is not even visible, not even the brick edging above it. The water level is also knee high (at least) here and heading into our yard. I cannot believe Robert stood in this rush of water and photographed.

17 comments:

  1. OMG, Debi I thought we had it bad. Bridge washed out on my street, and the street is closed to through traffic. Went down to look at it yesterday, and It's like a canyon where the road is just...gone.
    Fortunately our home was built with good drainage and it routes around the house. Glad you didn't float away.
    Margo

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  2. So sorry to hear about all the rain, Debi. You weren't kidding about rushing water! Hope things are drying out and you get that new computer from the previous post soon!

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  3. holy crap....
    what a storm. what a rain. what luck that you only had towels to wash.

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  4. I was incredibly lucky! If you look at the 3rd picture from the top, across that front yard, you'll see white garage doors. (The front yard shown is a corner lot front yard.) One of our two new neighbors. She'd planned a garage sale this weekend and that garage was full of all the goodies to be sold. Goodies which ended up sitting in waist high water. It's hard to tell from the photo, but water was level from the yard, across that street which dips down right there and so even deeper at that spot. The 2nd new neighbor was she of the downed tree. Both were unaware of the flooding that can occur in this area. And that house next door, it of the red door? A basement.

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  5. Margo - this house was designed to route water around the house, but the back part is below ground level by a couple of feet and when it rains fast & hard, it is prone to flood through that back wall. Used to be it would flood through the side into the bedroom and closets and hall and bathroom, all carpeted, but the last few years it has changed direction, thank goodness. And there have been a couple of times it's come in the front door. This rain it routed around the house and I actually was surprised it didn't flood earlier. It was much better than usual. When you're this close to the creek and ground level and all the water rushes your direction, well, there's just so much you can do. The biggest problem we have is that house next door. The creek is narrower and deeper behind it and the garage is built across it. When it begins to overtop it hits the side of the garage and rushes out of the small back yard and into our front yard, where the creek is already full. It's poorly designed. Personally, I think that garage needs to come down - it's probably a mess inside. But that's just my opinion. :)

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  6. Oh my goodness, girl - you did get some water!!! That's some major flooding! We were very fortunate around our house. We're on a hill and it just ran around us into the ditches out front. W.O.W. Hope the cleanup is not too bad!!!

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  7. Oh my goodness, looks like a real nail biter! Glad you are okay and didn't sustain too much damage.
    xo

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  8. No damage at all for me. There are neighbors who did, but it is all fixable; hard to regrow a gigantic oak tree quickly though.

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  9. debi.your photos and dialogue show the intensity and craziness of flash flooding...glad all were safe!

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  10. what a fabulous and exciting cleansing! especially since YOU sustained no damage. so thankful.

    and just who are you now, after the rush and the waves? what part of your glorious soul has been revealed?

    xo, graciel

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  11. these photos are scary. im so glad you are okay. : )
    xoxo

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  12. Oh, geez--that is amazing flooding. A few months ago, there was a similar case in RI, and the local mid-state mall has yet to reopen, I believe.

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  13. Well, I saw this unfold on your facebook page, and I was worried about you! And looking at it again now, it is hard to believe that you didn't float away, although I am so very glad you didn't...scary.

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  14. Whoa! I mean, really, WHOA!!!!!
    Dats a LOT of water. If only we had some of that you you guys wouldn't have too much of it!
    Exciting photos, though. Thanks, Robert! I hope you didn't risk you r neck taking them!

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  15. GEEZ!! So glad you are well with no damage. But, oh, so sad for the tree.

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  16. Holy CRAP!

    Has it really been this long since I visited you last? I can't believe these pictures! I can't believe how calm you seemed in your conversation with Katie. I am so so glad you came out of this in one piece. If I saw water rushing to my door like that, I would be freaking out!

    I'm so glad you ultimately decided to add pictures...I never would have been able to imagine this.

    Glad you are ok.
    xoxo

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