[Please also reference the series of article that this post relates to titled Once in a Lifetime: The First 24 hours, found on the Winona Daily News, which is the first article in this series. This story was first reference on reThinkSurvival yesterday here. You might also be interested in an awesome account of one person's experience during Hurricane Katrina as it dealt with flooding issues as well. Of course, you'll learn plenty more as well.]
On that night my husband and I were woke to several loud bangs and the entire house shook. What had happened? It had definitely come from the back of the house. I grabbed the flashlight and stepped out into the drenching rain trying to see what was going on. I could hear the roar of the normally foot deep creek in front of the house, but the house was 25 feet above that, no worries there.
Another boom and I focused the light on the back of the house toward the foundation. Huge rocks had rolled down the bluff and hit the house, and the retaining wall behind the house had collapsed causing mud to close off the only escape route for the torrential rain that was pouring off the 400 foot high bluff behind the house.
Bob’s feet had hit the floor and he was smoking a cigarette, waking up. I ran downstairs to the finished basement. The plummeting boulders had cracked the cement blocks of the foundation and water was pouring in.
I ran back upstairs, told Bob what was happening and went outside to try to peer up the hill. I knew there were huge, like 3’+ in radius, maple trees right above the house. If one of those came down, it would crush the house and anyone in it. And maples are fairly shallow rooted trees. If boulders were rolling down and the hill was giving way…
Bob was down in the basement trying to find the sump pump… Then the power went out. Everything was so dark.
The roar of the flooding creek was becoming deafening. I ran to the end of the yard and peered over the edge toward the creek. Through the lightning flashes, I didn’t see a creek; I saw nothing but raging water for as far as I could see. Another flash and I saw trees that had been carried down in the raging water starting to pile up against the bridge base. If they clogged that pass, the water would churn and bypass bridge and potentially take out the house.
I ran back into the house and the basement where Bob was. He had a shovel and was trying to throw the water out the basement window. I looked for the emergency radio—I had stored it on a shelf that was now being flooded with water.
Between the water pouring in, the trees that I was sure were going to come down on the house, and the potential for the bridge to be taken out by the flooding creek, I was terrified! I was shaking, crazy with fear. I told Bob that we had to get out of here! He said he would stay and bail out water. I screamed about the trees and the creek. The look on his face was that I was over reacting.
“I’m going to Mother’s. She’s on high ground.” I said, and fled to the car, a small Ford Escort station wagon. He had the truck.
It was only seven miles to my Mother’s house on a state highway. The valley where we lived got no cell service. The rain was coming down so heavy I could barely see the road, but I knew that road like the back of my hand. I would be okay…
Three miles to Rollingstone and everything was dark. I never even thought about the creek crossing under the road. The same creek that ran by my home and I was so scared of. With the rain coming down like it was, I couldn’t see ten feet in front of my lights. I was going slower than usually, about 50 miles per hour, but way too fast for the conditions!
Suddenly I could feel the car just kind of shudder and bump, the engine roared, a feeling of weightlessness, another bump! My God, the water was over the bridge and I was in it! I slammed the gas pedal to the floor and started praying. Float, touch, float, touch, float, touch and I was out and on the other side! Thank God!
I slowed down and continued onto my Mother’s. Just four more miles…
I had not turned the radio in the car on. I was just too scared and focused on getting to my Mother’s.
I made it to Minnesota City and started to cross the bridge. I could still not see more than a few feet in front of me and was only going 30 mph—still too fast. I could feel that something was wrong with the bridge. It was like the car with shuddering. I just sped up!
Finally, I made it to Mom’s. She was in bed, sound asleep and blissfully unaware of what was happening. I woke her up and told her what was happening. We turned on the radio and she lent me a robe so I could get of my wet clothes.
We woke up the next morning to incredible devastation. Deaths, devastation, and I learned just how close I came to be a statistic in this flood…
Bev will continue to write about her experience in the Flood of 2007 as the series continues this week, the fifth anniversary of the flood, in the Winona Daily News.