The Big Flood in Three Acts
Contributor
Written by
Julie Jeffs
May 2010
Contributor
Written by
Julie Jeffs
May 2010
Act I "Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink." ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge I have a habit of checking the weather forecast at night before going to bed, to decide what I need to wear to work. Saturday May 1 was supposed to be in the 70’s but with rain and thundershowers. The weather forecasters got it right. It rained, there was thunder and lightning and as I checked the weather throughout the day there were severe storm warnings. I’m fairly new to Tennessee or anywhere else with tornadoes as part of their weather picture. Standing in a huge warehouse home improvement store added to some of my unease, didn’t sound like a good plan to me to be standing amongst the hammers, saws, power tools and large pieces of lumber flying around. Visions of that witch on her bicycle come to mind.

Customers were coming in for things like sump pumps (whatever a sump pump is), wet/dry vacs, sand and bags, large drainage pipes. But, there weren’t that many customers; most were likely home riding out the storm. The manager asked if anyone wanted to leave early, a chance for him to cut hours and save the store money. No one had to ask me twice and so I left. I was scheduled to work Sunday as well. The rain and thundershowers continued, the weather reports continued to talk about severe thunderstorms, possible high winds and possible flooding. I am never quite sure the difference between the severe weather watch and the severe weather warning. I’ve become kind of complacent, believing that usually the warnings are overkill, I wait until I hear the tornado siren. Again, I got to leave work early, business was slow and again it was almost all supplies to either clean up or redirect water. I’ve been in severe weather before including localized flooding and really thought that was what was happening here. The weather reports remained the same although the severe weather warnings were starting to add up. As I got off of the parkway and turned onto the street to head to my house, I was suddenly forced to pull into a gas station to avoid a huge amount of water in the middle of the road. In the middle of the water was a car, a sedan up to the windows in water and the driver climbing out the driver’s door window. I turned around and headed to a back road that would lead to home. As I rounded a corner, I saw another driver coming the other way, we slowed and I asked if the road was clear. He told me yes but that there were a couple of areas where the water was covering the road, to just go slowly. I made it home without much problem. My housemate was planning on going out. She normally drives a small Ford Focus; I drive a Toyota 4 WD pick-up. I told her to take my truck, that there was likely too much chance that her car wouldn’t make it through some of the streets that were beginning to flood. She left and I sat down to write. I checked the weather reports again; the rain was forecast to stop by about 8 p.m. At only 6 p.m. the rain had stopped and the skies were beginning to clear somewhat. It looked like the worst might be over. My house is about ½ mile from a park that overlooks the Cumberland River. I decided a walk to the park was in order, give my dog some much-needed exercise (we won’t mention the much-needed exercise for me) and check out what the river looked like. About half way down my street is a walkway that leads to some steps that lead to what is a big field behind my house. It is almost like a big bowl, from the bottom of our fence in our back yard it is probably another six feet down to the deepest part of the field. It is about ¾ of the size of a football field. I walked down the pathway and was shocked to see the field filled with water. Only three of the steps leading down into the field were still out of the water. But that still left the water a couple feet below the bottom of our back fence. This just seemed to be collected water, not from a flooded stream or river and since the rain had stopped I thought it likely had gotten as high as it was going to.

As I got to the park the atmosphere was interesting. I had never seen so many people and cars were streaming both in and out. I wasn’t the only one who thought checking out the river was a good idea. At the entrance to the park, the road was slightly flooded and the dog and I had to walk through about 6 inches of water. No biggie, the “puddle” was only about eight feet wide, easy enough to wade through.

The river was high. What was usually a grassy hill that slopes steeply about 20 feet down to a chain link fence atop a concrete wall was now a hill of only about 5 feet and the chain link fence and concrete wall were under water.

I walked home. I talked briefly to my housemate; she asked if I thought there was a danger of our neighborhood flooding. I assured here it wasn’t likely the water would have to come up a lot higher to flood the park then a whole lot higher than that to reach our neighborhood. Where she was there was no danger of flooding and so I returned home and went back to my writing. Storm schmorm …. mostly a lot of hoo hah for nothin’ …. or so I thought …. To be continued …

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Comments
  • Oh Julie - we are thinking of you up here in NYC. Thank you for sharing these posts, and these pics, and your story with us all.