Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Special delivery: one yawning abyss

I've been trying to figure out the right place to start this story. I'm tempted to go back to yesterday when I was e-mailing with a colleague and wrote something like "I'm looking forward to a boring summer, because I've already had enough excitement for one year." What was I thinking?

Or I could start at the moment this morning when I was walking down our road trying to find the remains of our garden shed and a guy from the county road crew drove by and asked, "Have you ever seen it this bad here?" And I had to admit that we didn't actually see the flood because we slept through it, but we've certainly never seen this level of damage.

Or I could start a little earlier, when my husband and I were getting ready to walk out the door for the day. He was all spiffed up in his teaching clothes and I was dressed casually for a day at the Akron Zoo with the grandkids, so I kissed him and watched him drive away and then sat down to set up my gps to lead me to the Akron Zoo, and I was just getting ready to press "Start" when he came back in the door and said, "No one's going anywhere this morning."

We had a flood. It must have been pretty localized because some other parts of the county barely had rain, but here it fell hard enough to cover our bridge and our driveway and our lower garden--and to wash away the red garden shed and everything in it. Granted, most of the shed's contents weren't particularly valuable: piles of newspapers to use as a weed barriers, some fertilizer and seeds and crushed eggshells (to deter slugs). But we did lose every single gardening implement except one lucky trowel that was left up by the house. Oh, and the big green plastic garden bench is nowhere to be seen.

I found the shed. Apparently it floated off and slammed into our downstream neighbor's bridge, because there's a big piece of it wrapped around the bridge's piers and other mangled shed parts scattered in the neighbor's yard. One mangled piece of the roof ended up half a mile up the road in another neighbor's meadow. We'll retrieve the pieces at some point just to get them out of the neighbors' way, but first we have to fix the driveway.

Ah yes, the driveway: the flood deposited debris on the bridge and thick mud on one approach to the bridge and totally washed out a good five feet of driveway on the other side. This morning I stood at the edge of the bridge and looked down into the yawning chasm and then looked over to our neighbor's hay meadow, where a long finger of gravel and rocks stretches out pointing downstream. "There's our driveway," I said, but it certainly wasn't useful in such a scattered condition. 

Hopeful stood at the edge and looked down at the abyss and then looked back at me pleadingly, as if to say, "I hope you don't expect me to jump across that." Jumping was not an option. Any crossing would involve a precarious climb, so I stayed a while on the bridge and cleared the smaller debris piles, leaving the big limbs for the tractor to haul off.

You will recall that at the time when my husband discovered that he could not drive across the bridge, he was preparing to go sub at a middle school on the other side of the county. It was clear that he wasn't going to be able to go anywhere until we got a load of gravel delivered, but here's the dilemma: how could we notify the school that he was not coming and also call the gravel guy to deliver a couple of truckloads when Frontier still has not restored phone service that was knocked out more than a week ago?

We puzzled over that for a bit and resolved on a two-pronged plan: I would try to use our glitchy and unreliable internet connection to contact the school, and he would somehow climb down into the abyss and walk up the road until he could find a neighbor with a working telephone. Along the way, he flagged down a passing school bus (!) and asked the driver to radio the school office and ask them to call the school where he was supposed to sub--in a completely different school district--and tell them he couldn't get there. And the remarkable thing is: they did it.

And here's another remarkable thing: our son worked late last night and when he tried to get home, he was halted by the yawning abyss where the driveway had been, but he also noticed another unexpected sight: a cardboard box perched precariously on top of our newspaper delivery tube. Remember the suit my husband had left behind in North Carolina three weeks ago? Well, FedEx finally delivered it, leaving it late in the day on top of a wobbly newspaper box in the pouring rain, not long before that newspaper box would be surrounded by floodwaters. But the suit survived the flood--a little wet, but no worse for the experience.

And so are we. By noon we had cleared the debris, conferred with neighbors, received two loads of gravel, and restored the driveway to stable enough condition to carry a car. It's still pretty bumpy and muddy, but I made my way across and drove up the highway, headed toward the grandkids. I missed the zoo visit, but I've probably had enough excitement for one day. (Better not say that out loud.)

Oh, and that county highway crew guy? He was shaking his head at the extent of the  damage to our whole area, and he said,  "I don't know what you people out here did to deserve all this." I considered the daisies blooming all along our driveway, the wood thrush calling in the woods, and the pawpaw trees putting out plenty of blossoms that will produce luscious fruit this fall, and I think, No, I don't know what we did to deserve all this either, but we'll take it.

What's missing? The garden shed.

Hopeful says, "Come on! It's just a little mud!"

a little mud.

Debris on the bridge.

Hint: if the dog won't jump the gap in the driveway, don't try to drive a car across it.

Hopeful wasn't too helpful removing debris.

Our neighbor's hay meadow, studded with rocks and gravel from our driveway.

Nope, not driving on that.

Debris under the bridge. (It will have to wait.)

Got a disaster? Call this guy. He'll get right to work.

Pieces of our shed, hundreds of yards downstream.

Hopeful supervises gravel delivery.

Happy little daisies, because we can all use some good news.


Laura said...

*HOW* did the suit survive? Miracles still happen!

Pat Hogue said...

Thanks for the link so we could "see to believe" your flood damage. We've seen Marietta flooding over the years because of the 2 rivers, but didn't think about your little streamlet being a problem!! Love & Prayers Pat & Jimmy

Mabry O'Donnell said...

Your spring adventures are more than enough for an entire county! We are glad that you have survived, and we do hope that your summer will be serene. It seems that smoke signals might be more effective than your phone service. Please know that you and yours are always welcome here.