We are clearly in uncharted waters tonight. There is no precedent for this event. There is no computer model to tell us what to expect, what to think, how to feel. This is a primal event wherein each of those at risk survives by their wits and their instincts. This is a night of reckoning for those who live in or near the floodplains.
Only the dawn can tell what havoc wrought tonight.
I will never forget being flooded out the night of February 20, 1993. Those sounds and images and feelings will haunt me forever. If you have never been flooded, you will never know the fright and fear and emptiness that swallows your spirit. You will never hear the cannon crack of trees snapped like twigs in the gloom of a rushing river night.
You will never know the smell of the surging, roiling waters and see the shadows of debris flowing fast in the dim beam of your flashlight. You will never know the despair of seeing water surge ever higher toward your home, creeping ever inward to your very foundations and carrying away your belongings. There is a psychic toll that a flood takes from the human heart.
It took me a long time to recover from that flood. Susun's help was pure gold. I was a zombie for a long while afterwards. She had been in San Diego, returning after it was all over. She never knew the feelings of that night on The Verde.
Whenever the floodwaters come, I can see them and they echo in my mind and reverberate in my heart. Looking back, I can clearly see I was paralyzed with senselessness. I could have and should have done so many other things to avoid that fate. But I didn't. Looking back, I can see it all had a great purpose and put us on the proper path to a brighter and better future. Looking back, it's all easy to understand.
But I didn't know any of that at the time. All I knew was a primal fear and confusion and the paralysis of indecision. I couldn't see the future--all I knew was the present. I can still feel the cold chill of that night that seemed to last forever.
My heart goes out to those who will share that experience tonight. My prayers are with them and for them and I pray that they also can use the havoc and mayhem of this lonely and difficult night to move into a far better future for themselves, too. I wish there was a way to bring them comfort and faith in a brighter day. But there isn't. Those who have chosen to live in the floodplain will now pay the price. They will come to know their river like they have never known it before. And, for better or worse, tonight's memories will be fused forever into the rest of their lives.
May God be with you all and keep you safe!