Flood part 3
by Kate Demeree
It has been over a year since the flood, I never did finish the story of it. There are times it seems like yesterday, other times it seems a lifetime ago. Sometimes when I sit quiet I wonder if it were all a dream... a bad one. I left off the story before we got to the store, and am very sure that I left a lot of the story out along the way. Things get jumbled with time...
I remember the water coming up to my chest in places, others just to my waist , near the store it was thigh high. There were vehicles all along the way up to the door handles in water, left like abanded dreams. It’s funny now looking back, I think that I should have been afraid, yet I was not. I had the sence that as long as Gary and I were together, it was going to be okay. I remember being so exhausted that it was hard to put one foot ahead of the other, even with the adrenalin rush that comes at times like this. Gary was very sure footed, and led the way to the store, and my apartment upstairs. The water kept rising, and rushing faster with each step we took.
Most of my things were either at Gary’s or the old place in Center Village, only a few scattered things were at the apartment. We made it to the store, and apartment. My daughter, Gary’s daughter, Joe, and Jeremi, and the animals, all uneasily waiting. The kids went out to see what level the water was at, and came back in shock that it was still raining, and the water still coming up. Miki (Gary’s daughter) and Jerammi (her fiancee) went and juggled around what vehicles they could move to ground that was as high as they could find. Every one fell exhausted into an uneasy sleep.
It wasn’t long till we were roused from sleep by a banging on the doors of the building, it was the local fire department. We were told that we had to leave right now, take whatever we could hold in our laps and leave. They were evacuating the whole area, and all must leave. Soaked yet, and tired, shocked and sickened by the happenings we climbed aboard a school bus that had pulled up. The water was over the tires and first step, yet miraculasly the thing ran, and the driver drove through the deluge.
The bus pulled up to the house next door, where there were several small children, and animals in the family. I remember the shocked and sickened look on the fathers face, when they said he couldn’t bring the animals, and that the kids must come. He just kind of stood there with a hurt blank look... tears on his cheeks, and said he couldn’t leave. His wife and the children looking on, shivering in the rain.
The wife and he embraced said a few whispered words, held for a moment, as the firemen tried to hurry them. The bridge was in serious danger and none would get out if it went... they held hands till the last moment, he stayed and she left with the children to seek safety. Their house was on lower ground and the water already over the porch.
There were firemen all over trying to get people out, some in water to their chests, helping carry out belongings, knapsacks... plastic bags... They were very strong these men who volunteered, and put their own lives and belongings second to those of others. So many of the faces were familure to me, they were people I had grown up with, people I watched grow up, my friends and neighbors.
There were a few moments as we approached the bridge and it was underwater already, when many just sat and held their breath. The firefighters, and auxzilury people talking back and forth deciding weather or not to risk it. I looked out the window and saw a truck washed far down the creek, and wondered if whoever had driven it was washed away too. I thought about their family, and was thankful that I knew my family was safe. Gary squeased my hand and said "I love you, it will be okay, Hon". I smiled with wonder at this man, who could seek to comfort me, when his home was atleast 4 foot under flood water. We had left the animals there thinking to keep them safe. He spoke my worry aloud, " I hope the cats are safe, and the chickens... we will go get them tomorrow. It’ll be okay, the rain will stop soon, the house is raised, the animals will be okay, Hon."
I couldn’t speak, all I could do was wrap my arm around his and lay my head against his strong shoulders, and pray... that he was right.
We arrived at the school after awhile, Harpursville Central School, had been opened up to take in refugees from the flood. Funny I never thought I would be a refugee. Scattered thoughts ran through my mind... we were in the bus garage, as we had brought our dog Doogie with us, and that was where people with pets were to go. It was hard because one of us had to hold him on the leash at all times. We had to watch him because of other animals, and be sure to clean up if he made any mess.
We had grabbed bags with clothes, not sure what to grab... but something anyway. I remember one fellow didn’t have a shirt, he looked about Gary’s size and Gary gave him a shirt from his bag. People everywhere were sharing what little they had. There were deep puddles knee high around the buildings, to get to the school you had to go through this water, some children were even playing in it. God only knows what all was in that water, but at the time, you just don’t have any spare energy to think of things like that. You just put one foot ahead of the other and do what has to be done.
I met up with one of my co-workers Bert, she and her husband lived along route 7 between Gary’s place, and the store (Nineveh Country Store), they had been evacuated too, only the drove Charlie’s truck out (Charlie is Bert’s husband).
We went into the school, tired, and hungry to see what was going on about feeding everyone. Bert and I went to the kitchen, and helped the staff there to get breakfast started and set up for everyone. Some children were crying cause they were scared, and hungry, they must be fed and comforted. It didn’t matter if it was your child or someone elses, wherever I looked I saw people helping, comforting where they could. We worked for hours getting food around. Thank God for the donations that were already coming in. Nineveh Store had donated anything and everything they could find to feed the people, as had all the other local stores.
I sent Becca and Joe (my daughter and friend) to her dad’s house, where there was no flooding, so that they would be safe. I found Gary, Miki, and Jerami and we all got something to eat.
Then it was time to help clean up... everyone was kind of pitching in and helping to restore some kind of order. I walked out to find Gary again, as he was out taking care of Doogie while I helped. I remember we were so tired we laid down on the wood railings around the courtyard as that was the only place to lay down.
Tired tears dripped from my eyes and I tried to hide them but Gary saw, put his arm around me and just held me for a few minutes. Bert and Charlie were there with one of their pets Sable, a mink... they were talking about going back into Nineveh, said they were going to go via the railroad track if they had to so they could check on the other pets and their home.
Gary and I looked at each other and as tears ran down my face thinking of the cats we loved, left behind, in danger with water still coming up. He squeesed my hand and said, okay Hon... we’ll go get them. I marveled at this man who always read my mind, smiled and shook my head yes. It was a long walk, longer than I had remembered back to the apartment.
Author's Note: Still not finished, hard to go back, alot of emotion still there. Will try to post as I can... Love You All
Posted on 09/10/2007
Copyright © 2020 Kate Demeree
|Member Comments on this Poem|
|Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 09/11/07 at 04:06 AM|
I hope you do finish this. Raw, powerful stuff.
|Posted by Ken Harnisch on 09/11/07 at 04:30 AM|
you know what i think of this story...write on, Kate...when you have the strength
|Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 09/20/07 at 10:55 AM|
I am glad the flood didn't take you Kate, as you are needed here to write your heart out, such words as spill onto my own.
|Posted by Glenn Currier on 10/04/09 at 04:28 PM|
I appreciate you and the courage it took to write this. I did not read the previous posts about the flood. I am curious about what happened and where this took place. I have never read a personal written account of the devastation of a flood. It is very scary even to read. I can't imagine the trauma of living through it. Thanks again, Kate.