It had been raining three days solid. At first it was a welcome event, but by Wednesday, September 11th, I was pretty sick of it. The barnyard was a sloppy mess and the animals had been closed in for the last two days.
My mother’s little apartment, which takes up half of our basement, hadn’t flooded though. That was a blessing since it sometimes would flood during major rainfall for days on end. I called her and told her it wasn’t flooding and that we thought the last fix my husband tried had worked. She was away at the time.
My husband and I crawled into bed, exhausted from another long several days. We discussed the new fence we were planning to build the coming weekend for the barnyard, and the chicken selection, and his work. Then we went to sleep, yet again listening to the rain pouring down outside. It was a normal night for us, but the morning would turn our world upside down.
The alarm went off at 6 am, like always. I was startled because my phone immediately began blinging in texts right away. I use the “do not disturb” feature so I don’t receive calls or texts from 10 pm to 6 am. My husband headed out to milk the cow while I sleepily checked my texts. As I pushed the keys on my phone I noticed a strange noise. I couldn’t put my finger on what the subtle and constant noise was exactly, but I knew I had heard it before, just not at our house.
The texts were from my mom. They said something about using the shop vac to clean up the flooding in her apartment and they told where extra towels were for the mess. I texted her back that, like I said the day before, her apartment wasn’t flooding. While I waited for a response I noticed some other texts I had received in the middle of the night from an unknown number. There were voicemails too. I checked them out and my stomach dropped. They were reverse 911s telling us that the stream in our area was breeching its banks and causing some flooding. It was a “be aware” type message, not instructions to do anything. As my phone blinged in a response from my mom I thought “what IS that incessant noise!?” I was still hearing a constant subtle noise.
The text from my mom said my sister that lives near us had texted her that school was canceled because of major flooding in the area. So she assumed that her apartment was flooding.
Just then my husband walked in, pale as a ghost. I figured he had seen the reverse 911s on his phone too and that was why he looked upset. I told him what I had heard and he listened, processing it all. Then I finished with “what the heck is that noise!?”
Like in a dramatic movie, he walked over to the glass door and as he threw open the curtains he said “the stream!” I was suddenly very aware of why he was so pale.
The stream that runs about 100 yards down the mountainside from our house, that we normally can barely see through the trees, was now a raging river. The noise was the rushing water. The sound of a waterfall. The stream is normally anywhere from 2-10 feet wide and 1/2 – 3 feet deep along its path. It was now 20-30 feet wide and probably 10-? Feet deep. It was rushing, frothing, muddy water taking out everything in its path as it went. Trees, bushes, buildings, pipes, everything.
“We will be fine. We are on a mountainside. We will be fine.” I said, more to calm myself than to my husband.
The kids began waking up and we had breakfast. All the while I was getting a million texts from friends and family with news of the destruction that they were seeing or hearing from others. We heard about road closures and evacuations. But not where we lived.
My husband and I stood glued to the window, watching the stream-turned-raging-river as it tore through the landscape. It was still pouring rain.
We decided we should go to the store real quick to get some food in case this became a major issue. We were shocked when we drove away from our house and saw that it was already a major issue. A MAJOR issue. The river was over the road in several places, there was no way out. We were trapped.
We were still constantly calling and texting with people, letting them know we were ok and hearing what was going on outside of our view. I got a text from a friend saying that water supply was knocked out nearby. We quickly went to work filling every single jar, bucket, pitcher, and bowl we had with fresh water from the faucet. I was using the tub, my husband was using the kitchen sink. As we were filling them all of a sudden the water pressure dropped 75%. “There goes the main!” My husband yelled from the kitchen. Referring to the fact that the water main to our area had just broken. We finished filling everything with what little pressure we had left.
Then we heard a distant explosion and the power went out. Both the outdoor dog and the indoor dog started barking like crazy. We ran out on the porch in time to hear three more explosions and see what looked like static electric balls of fire and some smoke about 1/2 mile down the road.
“The transformer just fell in the water.” My husband said. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that we were fine. Safe, sound, out of the way of the flooding, with plenty of food and water to last us several days.
We tried to busy ourselves with normal life and chores. In the early afternoon our power came back on. We were very happy about that. But our cell and wifi went down. So we were isolated from communication. We found some flooding in the basement, the opposite end from my mother’s apartment. That side had never flooded before and my mom’s side was totally dry. Ironic. My husband and I moved all the storage boxes and the furniture upstairs, ripped up the carpet, shoved it out the window, and shop vacuumed the water up. He also went outside and tried to divert as much water as possible away from that end of the house.
We spent the rest of the day playing board games, reading aloud from some library books we had just gotten, and trying to stay calm. We vacuumed the basement water every half-hour.
We went to sleep for the fourth day in a row to the sound of pouring rain. But this time, it was accompanied by the rushing river waterfall sound.