River Rebound - Bob Dunn Photography
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River Rebound

Felt kind of buoyant this morning, looking out the window at a section of my concrete driveway that had been under water yesterday evening.

The Brazos is slowly receding. On Thursday morning it crested at 54.81 feet, higher by some accounts than it’s been in more than 100 years. Right now it’s at about 54 feet even. Just a few inches can make a big difference, but the biggest difference is the psychological lift in knowing the worst has passed and, in my case, this old house came through unscathed.

Here’s how it looked, from Monday when river water began leaking from the back of neighboring properties into the streets:
photocrati galleryJust a couple of days before I took this, the National Weather Service was “only” predicting the river would hit 50 feet. Thinking there’d be not much more than a couple of inches on the road, some people shrugged it off and started their holiday weekend celebration.

That didn’t last long.photocrati gallery

By Tuesday, it became apparent this was no ordinary major flood.
photocrati gallery

I could still wade through the street that morning, and checked up on the neighbors:photocrati gallery

But by afternoon the river pushed its way between two neighboring properties just to my east. Water rushed in as from a strong-flowing creek, filling the roadway with another 3 feet of water, and cutting me off. I was (and still am) living on an island:photocrati gallery

We had visitors; two guys from the U.S. Geological Survey who measured and quantified all the water around my island, front and back.photocrati gallery

Then the National Guard stopped by. They were on a search-and-rescue mission helping people who underestimated how bad this was going to get:photocrati gallery

That evening, a young man and some friends decided to take a joyride in an expensive-looking pickup with a big toolchest mounted in the bed. Down the road toward the house they came, seemingly ignoring the fact that the water was getting increasingly deep. Finally the kid, unable to distinguish roadway from ditch, drove into the latter.photocrati gallery His passengers jumped out and waded away; he helped his young girlfriend out of the truck’s passenger window, slung her over his shoulder, and waded onto dry land on the other side of my street. He left the windows down and the headlights on.

The next day was not a happy one. For more than 24 hours, the National Weather Service had predicted the river should have crested, at a lower level, than was the case. The river was at 54.5 feet – a foot higher than predicted – and continued to slowly rise instead of cresting. The water behind our property looked suspiciously similar in height to the water lapping up the driveway from the road.

My new lack of confidence in weather service projections, coupled with knowledge that some neighbors’ toilets quit working, helped me decide to evacuate the kids:photocrati galleryFire Department rescue boats were making regular patrols. It was almost like a water taxi. I hailed them as they passed, they turned around and made shore, we talked, they made an appointment to stop back in a half-hour and picked up the kids. Their aunt drove over and met them up the road on higher ground. (I should mention that my wife was out of town on a business trip and likely relieved that her children no longer remained on a flooded island).

So it’s just been me and the pups for the past two days, putting sticks in the ground to mark the water’s progress by light and watching old movies by night.photocrati galleryBut air conditioning, working showers and toilets, plenty of food and Internet access all helped take the sting out of the situation.

Then, as I noted above, the river began receding, taking (most of) my worries with it.photocrati galleryAin’t life grand?

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