Between 5:10 and 7:05 this morning, waters running through the street where I live rose from curb-level to 15 inches inside My house. In the span of less than two hours, My furniture was sodden, My game collection was in tatters, one-third to one-half of My books were ruined and that was just the beginning.
By shortly after 8 a.m., the water level inside the house was 28 inches. Thanks to My sister and a very generous gentleman named Dennis, I was able to rescue My computer and some other small items. By that time, I had to slog through chest-deep water some 700-750 feet to get into My house.
The impact of what I've lost won't hit Me until I have to get rid of the ruins. Thirty-plus years of possessions, mementos from My family and friends, manuscripts, files and personal memories are now plastered with mud. In the midst of a rare streak of deep disappointment in My career, I get My life largely erased.
The water crested at 35 inches. The cause was the drainage canal that runs behind My house. Not that the canal failed: It never reached halfway up its 16-foot walls. The problem was a quarter mile away, where the natural canal becomes a concrete half-tunnel. Since June, residents in My area had been asking for the City to clean out debris and garbage at the transition point, where dirt walls become cement slabs.
The heavy rains began at about 2:40 this morning, adding to already-soaked ground. But the last flooding in the area happened during Hurricane Georges, in 1998, and that after a 3-day rainfall of almost 7 inches. Earlier this month, almost 4 inches of rain fell over a three-day period and though water did lap at the front yard, it was far from running up into the houses.
With less than 2 inches of rainfall, the water surge along the natural canal pounded the blockage and thrashed the ground around the entrance to the drainage canal. At about 5:30, the ground to the left of the canal gave way and a huge surge of water smashed into the streets. As the drainage canal remained at relatively low levels, a deep stream of water flowed into My neighborhood, a little valley whose closest bowl-bottom is just a few steps from My door.
A car parked across from My house went from hubcap-deep to door-deep to only the roof being visible in less than an hour. A circled area of over 1,500 feet was swamped with water from a foot to about four feet in depth, with some 20-25 houses flooded. All of it inevitable once the drainage canal was blocked. All of it avoidable if the blockage had been removed anytime in the past four months.
Wednesday or Thursday I'll start cleaning out the pigsty that My house has become. I'll mourn the loss of My games, a source of deep pleasure and entertainment I shared with My Son and Nephews. I'll mourn My books, which have occasionally proven to be more important to Me than food. I'll mourn My lost manuscripts, the notes and ideas that are now illegible. And I'll mourn the loss of years of time, effort and money, along with the past that is now beyond reach.
But that's then. For now, I'll stay busy. What I can and want to replace, I will. What is irretrievable will be remembered for what it's worth. Everything else is now moot. And with the massive loss, I believe, comes a freedom to define who and what I really am, what I want to become and how I want to achieve it. The next time I move--for I will move--it will be much easier, lighter, freer.
And that could turn out to be a good thing. In fact, I'm pretty sure it will be.