"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Adventures in the Flood Zone

We received at least five inches of rainfall yesterday.

Our woods in the afternoon.

The Lodge is surrounded by a three-sided moat--four-sided, if you count the lake across the road. Water encroached, as it does during heavy spring rains, and though it came closer than ever before, it never got near the house.

About 8:30 last night we abruptly lost power. We assumed it was turned off by the public service company, because there was a report of a downed tree on some cables a few miles from here. After only half an hour of torch and candlelight, electricity was restored--two minutes before 24 started. We felt guilty about feeling so glad about the timing.

Because conditions elsewhere are dire. All around the state, tens of thousands are power-less, and will be for days. State highways have been closed.

This morning the Chap made it to his office and phoned a warning about hazards encountered en route. I needed to know--I was heading for the city myself, to testify at a public hearing for a bill I'm co-sponsoring.

Our little lake this morning, as I left the forest--my first view since the ice went out completely (sometime on Sunday.)

It's many, many feet above normal level, and our little beach is submerged. An improvement over yesterday, when it completely crossed over the entire road.

Farther on, I came to the places where half the roadbed washed away.

As I was leaving, a road crew was just beginning to shore up an even scarier section on the hill's decline.

The big 4-way intersection. Good thing I wasn't planning to go straight.

All across our little town, residents are stranded. The flow of water compromised at least two dams, destroying roadsbeds. Other tributaries of our local river jumped their banks, flowed over roadways, washed them out. The school is closed for a second day--the access road was closed yesterday, and the building is taking in water.

My public hearing was brief. Only three people testified--the primary sponsor of the bill, me (co-sponsor), and the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. (Who was having a crazy day, I'm sure, given the state of the state highways.) The bill, which already passed the Senate, is to name a traffic circle after two police officers killed on duty, as a memorial. One of these tragic incidents occurred in my own town, some years ago. The victim of the more recent tragedy, who left a wife and sons, was a native of my town--his parents and siblings live here and are my constituents. I had expected a few family members to appear. Those living in my area might not be able to get anywhere.

After a brief stop at the diocesan offices to play with one canon's puppy and eat another canon's birthday cake, I returned home.

All along the way I was awed by the dreadful majesty of the Merrimack and the Suncook Rivers. Crossing each bridge, I prayed it would hold firm.

By the time I reached my road, the work crew had repaired much of the gash pictured above.

I spotted a venerable tree, ripped in half by the high winds.

At the lake, where the little beach used to be, I met an oncoming car. My Good Samaritan instinct kicked in, and I pulled aside so it could first ford the stream flowing out of the lake.

After the other car passed by and I hit the gas pedal, I realised my front right tire was hopelessly mired in the soft mud at the edge of the badly compromised road. I was stuck. Shallow water was rushing on both sides of my vehicle--there was absolutely no danger, but the sound was worrying. It was raining and snowing at once.

I marched home (not a very long walk) to telephone the neighbour with the biggest truck--our snowplow man. He'd already seen my abandoned car because he was bringing in a load of rock to repair a place farther along the road where water had made a big, deep hole. And he knew I'm the one who got stuck because of my special State Rep plates. (When driving, I have no anonymity whatsoever.) He didn't seemed surprised by the call!

Quickly changing my Legislatrix attire for jeans, sweater, scarf, gloves, I walked back to the car where my local hero and his helper met me--not only with a pickup, but a big giant super huge truck. They attached a chain under my rear bumper and in 2 seconds I was out of the slop.

The heartbreaking situation at Virginia Tech (which I used to know as V.P.I.), in an area familiar to me, is utterly shocking. A sad background to these less deadly troubles closer to home.

And the rain is still falling.

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