I know I haven't written in a while. I guess you can call me a Blog Slacker. But I do have something wild and crazy to write about (finally, I know). The flood of 2011. A lot of people were affected by it. They lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, and everything they have known. I went through it.
I consider myself 'lucky' for what I lost during the flood. I was only out of my house for about a month and were were able to move back in.
Here, I'll walk you through it.
It was like any other weekday morning. I woke up and brewed a pot of coffee, sipping on some before I woke my oldest son up for school. After I sent my oldest off to school, my youngest woke up. We sat on the couch watching Mickey Mouse as I listened to the rain pour down outside. The rain wasn't expected to hit until the following day, but I know how right weathermen are, so I didn't think anything about it.
As I walk into the kitchen to pour myself another cup of coffee, I look out my window and see nothing but water covering the road. I thought it was nothing major, just minor flooding that would go away when the rain stopped.
That was before the rain started to fall harder.
As the water deepened on the road and made it's way into my yard, I turned on the news. "Flash Flooding" was all over the news, along with the schools letting the students out at 9AM, 11AM, even noon. My sons school wasn't on there.
I instantly got onto facebook to see photos that my friends have posted, as I tried to call the school to see why my son wasn't being sent home. I couldn't make it through to the school no matter how many times I called, and I realized the flooding was all over. The river was too full and it was backing up all of the creeks and causing flooding everywhere.
This is when my heart sank.
It wasn't going to stop. I knew I needed to get out of my town and find some place safer to go, that wasn't surrounded by creeks, but I couldn't leave without getting my oldest from school.
Around 1 I received a phone call from my husband, a Gas worker, who said they were all on their way home but stuck in traffic. They were going to have to drive through water up to the headlights in the company truck just to make it to Towanda (which is a few miles away) which was also under water.
Now I was worrying for my oldest sons safety, my husbands safety, and worried about the water outside of my house. No evacuations were ordered, yet.
An hour later I received another phone call, from my sons school. It was an automated message that said they were keeping the students at the school, because there wasn't a safe way to get to the school. That was it. My son was stuck at school, which had a creek near it and was down in a dip between mountains. I began to cry.
I called my husband back, and asked him if he would be able to find a way to the school. He said he would. We were both upset that the school didn't release the kids when the flooding began, just like the other schools around us did. But that was out of our control, the only thing we could do now was try to get him from school without endangering ourselves any more than we already were.
Frantically, I began running around the outside of my house, making sure there wasn't any water building up along my foundation. I felt lucky when there wasn't. I'd check my basement to make sure everything was dry, and we were doing good. No water in our house at all. I felt blessed and relieved. I stepped outside on my front porch to talk to my neighbors, when I did I realized how much higher the water was within the five minutes I was inside. Sticks and rocks floated down the road as the creek roared up on two sides of my house. My neighbors were doing everything they could to block off the front of their house and keep the water from flowing into their basement like it was. I wanted to help them but I couldn't leave my 2yr old alone, and there was no way I was going to walk out into that water with him.
When I was doing my checks on the house again, my heart raced when I saw my basement. Water was filling up fast. I was never through a flood until then, so I didn't know what to do. My body was shaking as my chest pounded. I felt weak to the knees knowing I was helpless. There wasn't anything I could do for anyone else, let alone my own family. I'm the mother. I needed to protect my kids. How could I protect my oldest son when he wasn't even at home. He's in Kindergarten, He just started school. He has to be so scared and I'm not there for him. I can't comfort him and keep him safe like a mother is supposed to do, I thought. I knew right then, through Hell or High Water (no pun intended) I was going to get my son from school.
I called my mom and her boyfriend (who is who I consider my dad) and told them the water was rising in my basement and around the house. My yard was a pond and the road was close to being a river itself. They made the decision to come and get me.
I called my husband and told him I was going to my moms. I asked him to get our oldest and meet me there. He agreed. Thank God.
I packed up clothes for my kids, as well as necessities they would need. My youngest went down for a nap as I waited for my mom and dad to show up. I knew how bad our road was, I could only imagine the other roads. I live on a moutan in the middle of no where, I knew it would take them a while to get to us. I just did't think the bridge near me would be submerged in water by the time they were close.
They made it though. I was relieved when they made it to my house, now we just needed to journey back down the mountain, with my youngest.
I ran outside with luggage in one hand and my sons carseat in the other. I threw my bag in the back of their vehicle the same time I threw the carseat in the back seat. I don't think I've ever strapped a car seat so fast in my entire life. After I tightened down the car seat I carried my son out and strapped him in. I sat right next to him making sure I held onto his car seat. I wasn't going to let go for anything.
We had to cross over the bridge, it was the only way to get out of there. As the water rippled over the bridge like a hungry ocean, we slowly crossed over. The SUV was being pulled by the water as we crossed, and I was relieved to make it to the other side.
That was short lived.
The road ahead was covered in running water and debri from falling rocks and mud slides, and we had to make it through. Every time the water pushed the vehicle my grip tightened on my son. I kept saying 'we're almost there, we're almost there. We'll be safe soon. It'll be okay.' And we did. We managed to make it to my moms house, where there wasn't a drop of water flooding anything. I was happy we were there and my youngest was safe, but it wasn't over for me.
Did he make it to Kayden? Are they on their way here? Where are they at? worry built up in me. There isn't cell service everywhere in the county I live in. I used my moms cell to try and call my husband and I couldn't get through. I didn't know if they were just out of service or if something happened. I kept dialing and dialing. When he picked up finally and told me he got Kayden from school, I felt peaceful. When he said he was almost at my moms, I was estatic.
As they pulled into my moms driveway I ran over to the truck and swung the door open. I grabbed onto my son and held him tight. I think he got a little sick of me kissing him over and over, but I was happy. I had my family with me and I was finally able to do what a mother is supposed to do, protect her children.
A few days later after the flood, we went back to the house to see the damage. There were piles of rocks in the road, taking up half of it. The creek made itself a new path down my neighbors driveway and into my front yard. the road is dug out in front of my house and needes fixed. Miscelanius things floated into our yard (the weirdest was either a dust pan or the wood shavings bag, I'm not sure which one). But the water never made it into the house. Just the basement. The house reaked like fuel from our furnace. The water heater was flooded and somehow caused it to get so hot that steem engulfed my first floor and busted pipes. But at least money could replace that stuff. Money couldn't replace the memories we had stored away in our basemet. I had pictures of my half brother I don't know down there, and I didn't have many pictures. I now have one left. Memories from High School, my children when they were born, and my family before my parents divorced and us kids split up. Destroyed.
We spent weeks at my friends house. Together there were four kids and four adults in a three bedroom house. My husband was out of work for a little while. The water got contaminated and we weren't allowed to drink it, but going to Walmart was pointless. They were sold out. We had to wait for the Nationa Guard to bring in water so we could drink it. A week later my husband was back to work, I felt blessed. A few weeks after that we received money from FEMA and replaced the stuff we could in our basement and moved back in.
I drive through town and I see my home town ruined. Buisnesses moved and homes being torn down. People wearing masks and gloves to clean their houses. But I saw our community come together. My Aunt and Cousin lead volunteer programs and made the news and newspaper for it. To this day, people are still without homes and jobs. It's not something that goes away once the water goes down. It stays with you. There are 23 bridges down in my sons school district and houses that are gone. Families without a place to call home. There were children trapped at my sons school for two days. I never, ever want to go through that again. When you're in that situation, you're a helpless bystander to mother nature. Finally, things are back to normal and I get to work on my writing again.