Our class was divided and working in groups when all of the phones began to vibrate. The campus was on alert and everyone was encouraged to stay put until the weather conditions improved. Almost simultaneously, my phone began to ring with a call the school nurse telling me to pick up my son. There wasn’t a question in my mind. I was going to drive home and get him. Maybe if I left quickly, I could beat the worst of the storm.
I picked up my daughter and checked the street maps for flooding. They couldn’t be accessed so we began to head home the way we knew. As we drove, we watched as the water kept rising, faster and faster. When the traffic came to a stop, I chose to turn and take another route home. We passed through streets that were beginning to fill with water. Thankfully, we were able to drive near the edge and continue on. We twisted and turned trying to get to higher ground.
Until we made one left turn that took my breath away.
I watched as waves of water splashed back and forth in front of us. There was no way to turn back. About 20 feet away, we saw a big truck attempt to pass through, only to come to a stop and float toward the side of a building. Water was level with the hood and trunk of the car directly in front of me. My daughter and I watched as it began to smoke, sputtering and then stopping just as it reached a ramp leading to dry ground. They could go no further.
I could feel my engine begin to falter. Honestly, my thoughts were not of physical safety; they were filled only with dollar signs. How on earth could I afford to lose my vehicle? I quit a job to go back to school. I live on a tight budget and have no wiggle room for expenses like this.
In front and to the left of me was a steep drive up into an alley.
Could we make it that far? I had no idea. But I knew if I didn’t, my car would stop and sit in deep water and I would experience a complete loss.
Without really thinking, I chose to take a chance…and we made it! We were one of the first vehicles there and were able to park on higher ground while both in front and behind us, the water continued to rise between 2 – 3 feet.
My daughter and I watched as cars, trucks, and SUVs sputtered into the alley with us. We listened as some of them clicked and shut off. We saw person after person become overwhelmed with what was happening around us.
After an hour or so sitting and listening to the weather, we knew that more rain was supposed to fall, and we could be trapped in our car overnight. Thankfully, we were able to secure a hotel room, abandon our car, and walk to safety.
(Thank goodness for my second son that was able to go and pick up my youngest that was sick!)
As I ponder this experience, I realize that although I had compassion for those that experienced flooding during Hurricane Harvey, I didn’t comprehend it. At all. Now, I do.
Two years ago, during Harvey, I was married and living a financially secure life. I did not have the fear of losing everything; because I knew that even if I did, I would have the means to re-establish. It’s different now, and the insecurity and fear almost paralyzed me.
Being on this side of things…a single mom, trying to figure out how to establish herself after spending years supporting and managing her family instead of creating a career and financial security for herself, is extremely frightening.
I continue to struggle with how I ended up here. I know that it wasn’t my choice to be in this position. And yes, I know that I am working hard to move forward to a much better life than I had. But oh my word, in times like this, there is a tiny part of me that wants to go back into ignorance…there was a bit of security in that life, even if it the consequences of living it were miserable.
**This is simply me being honest. This experience has left me shaken by the fact that something as small as losing a car could possibly derail the path I am on.