Friday, July 23, 2010
This was my neighborhood yesterday evening, before the worst. Local measurements of the "impact" range from 7.5 to 11 inches of rainfall in just two hours. Really.
This morning, we are drying out, and bracing for more rain.
Have I mentioned that my Mom and my sister and her family live in the New Orleans area? Where they are keeping an eye this morning on Tropical Storm Bonnie. Where Katrina is a fresh memory, and a massive oil spill still menaces sentient beings and their livelihoods.
Last night, we hosted a stranded teenaged friend, and a big-eyed five-year-old grandchild whose father couldn't get across town to collect him. Water trickled through the basement, which has been home to our "master" bedroom since we made over our upstairs bedroom for my hurricane evacuee parents five years ago. The flash flood "watch" (Did they mean the time we spent "watching" what sure looked to me like a flash flood? First, while trying to make our ways home from various parts of the city in a rush-hour-turned-deluge, and later, after our staggered, and staggering arrivals, on TV, in between cable outages.), this flash flood watch extended way past my bedtime, so I chose to sleep in our first-floor study. My husband insisted on joining his grandson in what we jokingly referred to as the "watery grave" suite downstairs. Before retiring, we watched the city's mayor, police chief, commissioner of public health, and fire chief describe efforts to deal with the unfolding disaster, and beg people to stay off the streets. Of course, that didn't help those who had been unable to get off the streets when the rushing water impeded their returns from work.
And what about those residents who were warned against contaminated water in their basements, even as the tornado warnings bleated from their screens and radios, telling them to seek shelter in said basements?
At this point, we've survived "wave one" of what is expected to be a very wet weekend. The forecast is for rain today, and more rain tomorrow. Our damage so far is minor, compared to our neighbors down the hill. This time around, our sump pump held. (Actually, the last major flood that affected our neighborhood would have spared us too, except that our sump pump continued to function, all too well, after the clamp securing the "evacuation hose" came off. Thus, the sump pump proceeded to pump water throughout the basement, to a height of about two feet in places. Thus, my first introduction to FEMA--which some of my friends in New Orleans refer to as Fix Everything My Ass.)
Needless to say, yesterday's plans blew up before the day was over. Plans for today are up in the air, contingent, reminding us to be humble in the face of nature and other "forces beyond our control." I'm going to try to make up for the triathlon training I didn't get to do yesterday evening, when I couldn't get to my gym a few blocks and many, many gallons of water away. If the gym, like our local high school, is bailing out, I'll try instead to make the also-interrupted trip to a distant suburb to pick up my new bicycle seat. That too, depends on the state of the roads and the skies. And it's hardly an emergency, since the bike shop where my newly tuned-up bike awaits pickup is located on a street a few blocks from here that was swallowing SUVs not twenty-four hours ago. And I'm not overly anxious to venture out on my restored and upgraded conveyance in the promised downpours, anyway.
I can, and should, still meditate, and write, and clean. And I will try to resist the state of torpor that can set in when work is so easily undone, and new and overwhelming tasks jump to the head of the list in these circumstances. And to appreciate, as one of my yoga instructors likes to say at the end of class, "all that we have, and all that is yet to come."