Tuesday, September 21, 2004

ivan was here

Hurricane Ivan visited this mountain region on Friday and Saturday, and caused a near emergency evacuation for us. It was expected that this storm was going to go north and west of our area, and rainfall was predicted to be a little over an inch. That was not what happened.

My rain gauge was overflowing at six inches. I have never seen the river so high. We were getting reports that the flood levels were going to exceed the "Flood of 55", the last deadly flood to this area. I watched the river rising higher and higher, faster and faster. It was a powerful force. Logs and limbs and whole trees started to flow by. Down on the road, the water was almost hitting the bridge broadside. I walked down to take some pictures. The speed of the river was awesome. I was hypnotized by the swift water. I stood there as the rain started to drench me to the skin. My clothes were becoming wet under the rain gear, and one leg from my knee down was completely saturated from the puddle I had stepped into on my way down to the river. I stood very still and all I could hear was the roar of the water, and the rain pelting against the hood of my raincoat. My river was in a mood I had never witnessed before. I watched a water heater go by. I watched living room furniture go by. There were children's Fisher Price Toys, lawn chairs, garden sheds, and even a dock with a boat still tied to it. It made me feel very sad to watch pieces of peoples lives....bobbing along at a ferocious speed, tumbling over waves, being tossed about, at the whim of the river. I just could not look away. I saw countless propane tanks from bbq grills speed by. The river took canoes and rafts from the local liveries. It swept up whatever was in its path...even wildlife...I saw a dead deer, and heard a story from a local cop, who saw a dog still tethered to its dog house, fighting to stay above the water. He said he wanted to shoot it, but there were people nearby, and he did not want to start a commotion.

At one point in the evening, they started to evacuate those folks who live on low ground. Then we heard from the fire department, that a crack had been spotted on a local dam at the head waters. They said they did not expect the dam to hold. The television continued to report local evacuations and I was beginning to accept the fact that we may loose the bridge. The water was expected to crest between midnight and two in the morning. I did not sleep well that night.

Thankfully, the dam held, and so did the bridge. The waters have now started to recede, but the process is gradual. I feel blessed that we did not suffer any damage other than washed out roads and loss of electricity, and I keep all victims of Ivan in my prayers.


Mel said...

Very moving narrative, Cyn. It is hard to imagine a storm of that scope, still doing such damage after ravaging the Caribbean and all the other places along its path. So glad you are all ok.

Cindy said...

I can really understand the awe you felt while standing on your river bank. I have seen my tiny creek (usually barely knee deep) come hundreds of feet out of it's bank. I have a picture of a tree trunk it once deposited on my land, that my daughter and I could not span with hands joined around it. Water can move so swiftly and with such force.

Ivan was indeed The Terrible, to rage from so far south to so far north. I am very thankful that the dam held and you did not lose your bridge.

Your words were a description as powerful as the moving water.

Anonymous said...

More good writting. What's up with the little Jack?

Anonymous said...

Good reading---- nice to be able to keep up with the latest at the river

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