Note: I wanted to add pictures about this night but obviously I didn’t take any during my evactuation. But I would ask that you at least watch the video at the end of this post to get a feel for what things looked like in the cold light of day. Thanks.
Sunday night, May 2nd about 9 p.m. The power has remained on the entire night, the rain stopped about 6 p.m. or so. I’m working on my computer and expecting my housemate home at any time. My dog as well as my housemate’s two little dogs are quietly sleeping.
I hear what sounds like someone talking outside my bedroom window in the front yard. I can’t really make out what is being said and I’m trying to figure out if it is my neighbors, are they just talking? Are they fighting with each other? It sounds weird, like the sound is different than it should be. It is a man’s voice I hear but certainly not one I recognize and I still can’t figure out what he is saying.
I went to the front door and open it to see who is talking outside and make sure everything is okay. It is not only my general nosiness about what my neighbors are up to but I got that same feeling that I used to get while working as a cop, something seems not quite right and I want to find out what is going on.
I look out to see a man walking down the middle of my street. I was right, something is not quite right …. the street is flooded and the man is walking in thigh-high water. Well, how the hell did that happen and why was I so clueless? It is a surreal scene, the water flooding the street is what made the conversation and everything else sound so strange, voices sounded different, they didn’t echo off the houses in the neighborhood in the same way.
Other than the stranger walking down the street I didn’t see anything else out of the ordinary which made the whole thing so out of the ordinary. I can hardly believe we still have power.
I go back inside and call my housemate telling her not to try and come home, she wouldn’t make it anyway. I then call my daughter and tell her that our neighborhood is now flooding. She asks what I plan to do. There is nothing I can do at this point but wait and see what happens next. If the water continues to rise I will at some point I guess have to call 911 and try and get someone to come rescue me from my house.
About 10 p.m. as I am outside once more checking on the water level I see two men heading my way through the neighbor’s front yard, both shining flashlights in my direction.
One of the men says to me, “You ready to go?”
“Am I being evacuated?” I ask.
“Yep, are you ready?”
What I want to say is something snarky like, “Mister, do I look ready? I’m in sweats and a t-shirt and no shoes.” Instead I just say, “Uh, no. What about my dogs, I have three dogs?”
He tells me, “You’ll have to leave them, we need to go.”
“I have to go in and put some clothes on.”
I think he’s a little exasperated with me and says, “Just go put some shoes on”.
Now I’m the one exasperated, a little notice would have been nice. I tell my evacuator that he needs to give me a few minutes, to get shoes, to calm the dogs and get what I need to take. He agrees and moves on to the next house and begins banging on their door.
Okay, before anyone gets ready to string me up at the very thought of abandoning my pets … first, I saw the water outside; there is no way in the world I could manage myself plus three dogs trying to get out. Second, I was in law enforcement; I know what it is like when you are trying to evacuate an entire neighborhood quickly and safely. The last thing you need is everyone on the street wanting to bring their animals and needing help in doing so, can you imagine the dog fights with all the freaked out animals trying to get out? I believed that the dogs would actually probably be better off in the house. I still didn’t think the house would go under and figured if water came in the house at all, the animals could probably get up on couches and beds and remain dry and safe.
So I changed my clothes, put my sweats and some clean undergarments in my backpack, grabbed a toothbrush and loaded up my computer, my electrical cord to charge my computer, my phone and phone charger and my wallet and checkbook. I then gave the dogs each a couple dog treats and some fresh water and stepped outside and locked the door behind me. No, I didn’t think enough to grab my passport, my retired law enforcement ID or probably 50 other things I probably should have thought about saving. But my concern at the time was my computer with the entire manuscript for my memoir on it. Yes I have a back-up copy, on a flash drive but at the moment I can't tell you where that flash drive is.
Six of us were grouped together and told to each grab on to the rope one of the rescuers was holding, a way to stay together. Not really sure what would have happened if one of us had fallen, dragged the other 5 with them? We stepped into the street, into the cold water which was now waist high.
It was so odd to me that the water could be so deep in the middle of the street only 20 yards from my front door yet my yard was not flooded, water was nowhere near the front of my house.
Water is a very powerful thing and can sweep you off your feet in seconds. I could feel the current around my calves. I was more worried though about some of the people around me, people of all ages and physical abilities.
We finally got to the end of the street and out of the water. They directed us to walk down the street to a where the flashing lights were, what turned out to be the emergency services command center for the neighborhood evacuation. It was between a quarter and a half a mile, but in soaking wet cold clothes it seemed much further. We got to the command center and waited by the side of the road as the group of people grew. Couples with young babies, small children, several people with their little tiny dogs. I felt bad that my dogs remained alone in the house while other people brought theirs. I was certain though that it was like anything else; most people probably didn’t ask if they could bring their dogs and if they did ask and were told no they probably just brought them anyway.
A couple buses arrived, we piled on and were driven to a nearby high school which was now an evacuation center. No cot in a high school gymnasium for me. I was a lucky one. My daughter and her boyfriend arrived to pick me up and take me to their apartment.