Archived Story

Raining buckets of troubles

Published 10:44am Friday, July 12, 2013

Wednesday went from mundane to frantic in a matter of a few minutes.

The rain began falling like it had for several days. But as I sat outside under our awning smoking a cigarette, I got the feeling that this rain was different.

I came back in and deleted all the images off a camera memory card. In front of our office, the runoff had gotten so severe that whirlpools were forming around every drain.

Some drains were so inundated with water that the whirlpools were struggling to keep swirling. These drains would occasionally “burp,” shooting a spray of water from the center of each whirlpool like water from a whale’s blowhole.

I surveyed the office and borrowed an umbrella from Lacey. I went outside, attempting to hold the umbrella in one hand and the camera in the other.

I ran out by the street and managed to squeeze off a few shots. By the time I got back to the front door, my shoes and pants were soaked.

I decided to try to improvise. I took my shoes off and rolled up my pant legs like a pirate. I made a trashbag poncho and tried again.

By now we had noticed the Benjamin Russell practice field was slowly turning into a pond. I waded through 8-inch water only to find a perfect whirlpool forming in the middle of the field.

Convinced I had caught the most interesting shot the day would offer, I sloshed back to the office. Virginia suggested we ride around town, and though I figured I already had an interesting photo, I agreed.

Little did I know what awaited us near 11th Street West. We had originally turned down Washington Street, fearing a repeat of the July 2011 Brown Nursing Home flood.

Instead we found a street underwater, a confused dog watching his home float away and a house a few inches away from touting water frontage.

Again, I thought the day’s excited had ended. But before we made it back to the office we got the call. Wreck at the river bridge.

Sure enough, traffic was backed up toward Dadeville.

This had to be the end, I thought to myself. We waited 20 or so minutes to cross the bridge and headed back into town.

Like a good fireworks show, the flooding event had a grand finale. As we approached Patriot’s Point, flashing blue lights and stationary brake lights were waiting on us.

It was a surreal scene. Instead of the heavy flow of traffic I am accustomed to, U.S. Hwy. 280 was still. People were lined up on both sides of the streets watching in awe as the water gurgled and churned in the ditch. Some people were even in bathing suits, though I hope this was only a coincidence.

The water began to recede almost as quickly as it had appeared. After snapping hundreds of photos and nearly slipping beneath the water’s surface crossing the median (it was 4 ½ foot deep, a fact I realized a little too late), the day wound to an end.

By the end of the day I had a new appreciation of the idiom “When it rains, it pours.”

Nelson is news editor of The Outlook.