Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Surviving a Flash Flood

On August 12, 2014, I was sitting at my computer doing my thing (Warcraft) when I heard thunder - a lot of thunder. I didn't think much of it other than to put up a small post on Facebook, then went about my business. I knew the place where I was living (a motel) was prone to flooding, but as of that moment the worst it got was a flooded parking lot. Still the girl at the front desk gave me her obligatory call to make sure my belongings were off the floor. I promptly ignored her.

An hour passed, and then I started seeing water seep under the door. That gave me a turn and I started getting my stuff off the floor, especially my computer charger. I wound up having to jump onto my bed along with my laptop as water began to spread over the floor. I snapped some poor-quality pictures with my phone camera:

As the water began to rise I noticed a few things: First is was the dirtiest-looking water I can remember seeing, second, it wasn't going down. It gurgled through the air conditioning unit.. I shot a poor-quality video of it that doesn't seem to have made it in.

All this time I had been using my computer, on its battery now and posting on Facebook. I didn't actually think about evacuating, though the water showed no signs of abating. I figured I'd be safe on the bed for the night. Then around 9pm I saw a Facebook posting from one of the local news stations that police were evacuating the area, and sure enough the area was crawling with police and rescue people. I packed my computer (my precious) and a few clothes in my backpack, threw on an old pair of sneakers and waded into about 5 inches water just as they knocked on the door. I was led, through about 10 inches of water, into the lobby of the motel and on the other side of the lobby, they had a rubber raft waiting for me:

The raft had water in it, and between my bad knees and shoulder, was not comfortable getting into or out of. But it did save me from wading through more water.

I rolled out of the raft at the end of that short journey and found maybe a dozen more victims of the flood gathered around, along with a couple of dozen law enforcement and rescue people,

And videos:

These are the shoes I wore. They were falling apart before the flood, which is why I wore them, but one shoe just disintegrated in the muddy water.

After we waited for a while, Rescue arranged for a bus to pick us up to take us to the shelter. There was a family of 5, me and one other woman who finally decided to take advantage of the Red Cross' offer of shelter. But before we left, the skies opened up briefly to let us know that the area still wasn't safe.

At the Red Cross building, they had water, snacks and blankets waiting for us.

This was about 10:45pm. It took the Red Cross another 2 hours to figure out what to do with us, process us, and arrange for transportation to a nearby motel, where they agreed to pay for 2 nights. They also provided a debit card with $50 on it to help with food and other necessities.

In talking to the other victims, including my next-door neighbor, I found out that snakes and spiders were not only in the water, but in the rooms as well. I didn't even think to look for them. I was lucky.

And so here I am at another motel, much drier than the previous one. I took the day off work, because I didn't get to bed until after 1am, and I wouldn't have gotten much sleep before slogging in. Also I have to do some follow-ups with both my original motel and with the Red Cross.

I am very grateful to RPD and the Red Cross for the help they provided.