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The Wheels Go Round (Black Clouds)

Updated on January 3, 2015

by llscotty

This is dedicated to my husband who drove for the local authority for 25 years. A number of incidence on his runs were either funny or inspirational. These will be depicted in my writings.

Windshield Wipers as storm started
Windshield Wipers as storm started
Lightning striking a tree similar to one along the route
Lightning striking a tree similar to one along the route
Early evacuation along Butler Street in Etna before the bus makes a deviation to route
Early evacuation along Butler Street in Etna before the bus makes a deviation to route

Black Clouds

It was an uneventful afternoon and I had just finished the first half of my run outbound to a small community at the far reaching end of the county. After a short break, I started back in knowing that I would not pick up many, if any passengers. I had just left Bairdsford and crossed over 910 when the clouds started rolling in. Suddenly the heavens opened up and sheets of rain started to pellet the windshield which was fogging up and I was wiping it down every few minutes with the roll of paper towels that I kept in my bag. The closer I got to Middle Road the harder it rained and lightning was striking all around me. I almost jumped out of my seat when a bolt of lightening struck a tree close to the road as I passed it and peeled the bark right off the tree. Luckily for me, it only splintered the bark and the tree did not come crashing down.

As I crossed over Middle Road I could see a wall of water coming down the hill ready to wash into the corner store on the corner I had just passed by. I picked up my handset and called the dispatcher telling them that they had better let the drivers know that Harts Run Road was becoming impassable. The response I got was, "it's raining everywhere, operator, just keep moving the best you know how!"

The best I knew how was to doggedly follow my route down Middle Road onto Route 8 passing the Eat 'N Park and heading into downtown. As I passed Little Pine Creek, I could see the waters churning and rising rapidly. The rest of my trip into town I didn't pick up any passengers. It promised to be an unevenful run except for the unrelenting rain. I knew I had to get to town because I normally had a full load coming home on this trip.

We left downtown a little behind schedule and traffic coming out was bumper to bumper. Most of my passengers were damp from waiting in the rain had started to fall asleep. Only a few sat dazed as if in a coma. Suddenly off to my right the lightening struck again. Only this time it had hit a metal railroad bridge with a reverberating crash. Passengers woke up with a start and my once dazed passengers were all alert now.

We doggedly crept into Etna in a line of traffic that seemed never ending. It took us 30 minutes to creep up the main street which is only 5 blocks long to a point where there is no turning around. A truck driver signaled me to open my window and shouted at me, "you can't get through there -- the street is flooded."

Having already called in once and been told to get my passengers home the best I could, I made a decision to go off route and cross over the 62nd Street Bridge and get my passengers home in another direction. I tried to call traffic but was getting no response. Once across the bridge, I stopped at a gas station and called the dispatcher by phone. He again told me to get my passengers home the best way I could.

So I headed northbound on Route 28 expecting to go out Route 910 and get back on route there. I only got partway up 910 before I came upon flooding that made the road impassable. If you've ever tried to turn a 40 foot vehicle around on a two lane highway you know what fun we had trying to do just that. Back down 910 and further north we went to Little Deer Creek Road. It was named after a creek but it was passable.

The rest of the ride was uneventful except I took my passengers home in the opposite direction of the way they should have arrived ending up at the same East 'N Park on Route 8 I had passed three hours earlier. Again I had to turn the bus around because of the flooding.

Interesting enough was that another bus followed me down Middle Road to Route 8 and was supposed to be my leader on that run. This flood turned out to be one of the most destructive in our area for years and claimed numerous lives. I thanked God to have had his guidance that day.


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    Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

    What a wonderful bus driver!! What a great hub!!