The first thing I reached for when the creek started rising, was a picture of my son at the ocean when he was about five years old. It’s my favorite photo. He’s wearing a little pair of blue jeans rolled up above his ankles, walking in the sand and looking down at the waves barely covering his small bare feet.
I placed the photo carefully in the plastic tub I was using to hold my most cherished belongings.
I wasn’t ready for a flood, but I should have been. Along with my rental lease when I moved six months ago, I signed a statement informing me that the apartment is in a flood zone.
I didn’t read the paper I signed. I was desperate for a place to live.
An unexpected bed bug situation in an apartment my son had recently moved into interrupted my search for a rental. Suddenly, my son was without a home and I had a deadline to find myself a place. We were tired. The winter weather was cold and I was in severe physical pain. Neither of us were able to continue looking, so we each rented an apartment in the flood zone.
The rain started late in the afternoon. I hadn’t watched the news and was not aware of pending thunderstorms.
My dog, Ruthie, tried telling me the rain storm was unusual. She barked loudly as soon as it started. My gut grabbed me for a moment.
I opened the door and looked outside. I could feel something different. The rain was loud.
There were two birds here that I’d never seen before. Cardinals were rushing to the feeders, getting more wet by the second. As the rain continued, the birds kept feeding. Water had soaked one cardinal’s wings and the poor bird struggled to stay in flight.
I quickly realized that everything in my home means a lot to me. I’ve downsized and what is left isn’t replaceable. Anxiety set in.
Family photos, art and crafts that either my son or mother created, and my pretty wooden clock that my sister gave to our immediate family members one year for Christmas, all went into the plastic tub.
I wrapped my little sculpture of a girl holding a bouquet of orange flowers to her face that my mother gave me for a birthday present about five or six years earlier.
Then of course, there’s the beautiful hand carved wooden spoon that I love. My son made it from a large piece of Cherry when he was thirteen years old. Without using power tools, he worked for many weeks chiseling, carving, sanding and shaping the wood. How in the world can something like that be replaced?
I spent the best of four hours, while the downpour continued, putting things in high places, packing them in the plastic tubs and lastly, unplugging electrical devices. I packed bags of clothes and necessities.
Management sent a messenger to tell tenants to evacuate the parking lot. Everyone moved their cars to higher ground.
Anxiety had me distressed.
Then, my son came over. He was completely calm.
At first, I was upset by this. I mean, how could he be so calm, I wondered, when our homes might be flooded any moment! I needed his help packing, I thought.
I felt disoriented. I honestly wished I could have afforded a hotel, but since I couldn’t, then I was planning on driving to my mother’s home.
After several hours of packing and listening to the downpour, along with seeing the families of other tenants come and go, taking their loved one with them, fatigue was overcoming me. I would likely have to surrender my pride and perhaps, accept the invitations offered to us by two friends for nearby refuge.
My son had earlier gone to the store for water, drinks and snacks. While I was running around packing stuff, he lied down on the floor with Ruthie and whispered in her ear. This obviously relaxed her and since she is such a sensitive dog, I was grateful.
Within a few minutes, Ruthie was lying on her back with her legs in the air. You know a dog is alright when they do that. My son gently rubbed her little belly and continued talking softly to her.
Ruthie and I both needed what he had to offer during the crisis. I suppose he needed it too.
The worst of the storm came at midnight.
The fire department and Red Cross had waited for hours on the other side of the bridge. They had a rescue truck in our parking lot. The water started to seep into the front door when I called them to say I was ready to leave.
Ruthie wouldn’t go outside. I would need help carrying her to the rescue truck. I was beginning to wonder if they would have to carry me as well.
My son had disappeared just before the water starting to come inside. He’d gone to check on his own place. I don’t think he realized how bad the situation could have been, until he saw the water rise to the level of my doorstep. I had begged him not to leave because the water wasn’t only standing in our otherwise grassy lawn, but by that time, there was a current.
I didn’t want to leave without him. I waited.
Within about fifteen more minutes the water started to go down. I had a feeling the worst of the storm had passed, but the rescue team suggested that we leave in case of another downpour.
The water level had gone down enough so that Ruthie would walk on the sidewalk. Three firefighters were at my door. My son had told them I needed help.
“Where is my son?” I asked the men.
“He’s at the club house playing pool,” one answered.
Apparently, he wasn’t alone. Floods are common and expected at this property. Management opens up the club house for folks to gather, watch TV and play pool.
Ruthie and I walked with the men. They carried my bags. They were most enthusiastic about their duty, which fire fighters tend to get.
I had only seen three men, until we rounded the corner of the building. There were six more waiting for us. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Ten strong beautiful men waiting to rescue me!
Thank you for visiting dogkisses!
Note: I was right about the storm’s end when the creek reached the level of my door and fortunately, we didn’t have damage to the inside of our homes. I did not refuse the help when one of the men offered to lift me up on the back of their truck. How could I?