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The Floods of Life

Updated on July 21, 2017

When it rains it pours. Such a trite statement used to gloss over a barrage of negative things life throws around. Yet sometimes when it rains, it really does pour and when it pours, the emotions flow. All the good along with the bad. It can be tumultuous, terrifying, and educational all at once. Learning to keep calm through it all is perhaps one of life’s biggest blessings. However, when it is not always possible to keep the feelings dammed up and they flow forth uncontrollably, that too causes a flood to either sink or swim in. Life is a river constantly in motion as it carries us along. I am so very thankful for that river and for being able to experience all of the highs and lows while still being true to who I am inside.

Let me tell you a story now. My Thanksgiving miracle of sorts. I wonder, could I have been swept away? The answer is yes.

Calm Before the Storm

My husband had to work Thanksgiving morning and I had to work outside of my normal daytime availability hours due to a sale taking place that evening. While not too happy about missing out on the family dinner, I was consoled by the thought of holiday pay. Plus, we were served a traditional turkey and ham dinner in the breakroom. For the most part, it was an uneventful night at work. Even the sale went rather smoothly. In fact, it was actually a day that seemed to drag on endlessly. The store was mostly empty, with plenty of employees on hand but few customers. The crowds rushed in for the one hour guarantee sale and then dissipated almost as quickly as they arrived.

I was very much ready to go home when my shift ended at 11pm, especially since it had been raining off and on all day and sounded like it was raining hard again. I talked to a couple of other cashiers that lived in my vicinity, telling them to be safe going home, exchanging good wishes and hopes we all were able to get home without any problems. Then I headed out the door. Sure enough, it was raining, worsening as I attempted to make my 20 minute commute safely. I hydroplaned a few times on the highway, but the real problems did not begin until I was a mere minute or two from my doorstep.

The Second Guessing Trap

I turned off the main highway to hit a few more pockets of water. The emergency alert system on my phone began blaring its loud warning that flash floods were coming to my area. Well, not much to do at that point other than to continue on. Virtually every road I could take from where I was had low water crossings. I turned onto the county road leading to my home stretch thinking I might just make it. Barely, but make it nonetheless. I was wrong.

Rounding a curve, I had two bridges to cross and then a left, a right, and another right into my driveway. I went over the first bridge, which had no water coming across the road, and on to the second bridge that did have plenty of water flowing across it. I could tell that the current was rough and that it was not a good idea to attempt to drive through it. It was already beginning to rise, becoming more turbulent by the minute. I called my husband to let him know I was not going to attempt to go through that water, that I was going to try to back up.

However, backing up was not as easy as it sounds. I could not see. It was dark and the back window of my pickup is tinted. Rolling down my window did little to help. I was uncomfortable and nervous, feeling like I couldn’t steer straight enough. I did not want to end up in a ditch so I called my husband, who said he would come help me get the big Dodge pickup backed back over the other bridge so that I could get out of there. Unfortunately, this meant getting the kids out of bed and out into the rain to come get me. Before heading out, he advised me to call 911, just in case.

The words made me a little more nervous, but I complied. Inundated with calls from stranded motorists, the only thing the dispatcher could do was to get my location and basically tell me to sit tight. I was told to call back if anything changed. So I sat and waited. My husband managed to find away around that was not yet under water. He came up behind where I was, stopping just before the first bridge that I had crossed several minutes earlier.

While on the phone, I attempted to go in reverse again as my husband tried to encourage me to keep backing up. I still could not see. Before I got to that point, the truck was not handling the pockets of water on the highway and side roads well. The warning light on the dash warned the transmission was hot and then would try to sputter out. I gouged the gas and the truck leapt forward again, dangerous on wet roads. In my mind, I thought what if the truck jumps back and I lose control? Irrational perhaps, but my thoughts nonetheless.

So, I thought I’d try to turn around. A little at a time. On the rather narrow road I inched my truck forward and backwards in a circle attempting to turn around so that I did not have to drive backwards over a bridge I could not see. It seemed to work until I inched a little too far forward. Trying to reverse after that point was futile and trying harder only made the truck go further into the ditch. At that point, the water was rising rather rapidly over the bridge I needed across. Walking across it was out of the question. Maybe I should have just put it full reverse and gone for it instead of turning around and if nothing else, been able to walk off the road or out of a ditch. Too late, though..

Waiting and Watching

I took out my phone, made another call to 911 to report changes to my status, was assured a fire truck had been dispatched, and then called my husband again. I let him know that my phone was about to die. I did not have a car charger so once it was out of power, I could no longer make any calls. I could see him sitting on the other side of the bridge with his headlights facing my truck, now sitting perpendicular to the road. But that was of little comfort. I sent a few texts to people, asking for prayers.

I watched as the waters inched closer to me. Thinking I might be able to get to safety if I went back up the road to the other bridge where a driveway could be found when it was not flooded, I got out of my truck. Running down the road, I wondered if I might be better off standing there on slightly higher ground and as I got closer to the other bridge, it became clear that the driveway to the safety of a home was no longer in sight. Waters were closing in from that direction too, so I turned and ran back to my truck, walking through ankle deep water to climb in my drivers side door. Nothing else to do but sit in the truck and wait.

But wait for what? Waters to continue to rise. How high would they rise? Would they sweep my truck down stream to who knows where? Would the truck remain stuck and fill with water? Should I get out? What would it feel like to be carried off? How far would I be carried? What tree branch, if any, looked strong enough to cling to if I needed to get out of the truck? The water just kept coming. I realized I was clinging tightly to the handle above the door.

Morning after. The second bridge I wouldn't cross still under water and seen from the side of safety.
Morning after. The second bridge I wouldn't cross still under water and seen from the side of safety.

Weakness and Strength

Suddenly, I felt extremely weak and tired. Loosening my grip seemed to make me feel weaker. Don’t give in, I kept telling myself. Passing out or falling asleep could be a big mistake. I prayed for courage, for wisdom, for strength and kept watching the water rise around me. The headlights illuminated the water now rushing over the barbed wire fence in front of me like miniature waterfalls. Seeing the fire truck lights arrive was a bit comforting. That comfort did not last long, though. Because it did not take long to figure out that they could not get to me.

I first noticed the truck on the other side of the second bridge. Eventually it came around to where my family was waiting, still unable to get to me. In fact, my husband had no choice but to keep backing up as the water continued to rise. At that point, I wanted to just give in and cry or something. Anything. I honked my horn several times, not really sure why. It was a combination of wanting my family to know that I was in the truck instead of out in the water and sheer frustration.

After awhile, I noticed water seeping into the truck around my feet. My legs began feeling heavy. I was cold and generally just miserable. Pulling my feet up off the floor, I took off my shoes to remove my soaking wet socks. I also shed the jacket I soaked in the rain when I got out of the truck. Thinking I may still need to get out of the truck if water kept coming in, I put my shoes back on to protect my feet but kept my legs huddled up around me in the seat. I pulled my wet jacket around the front of me, using it like a blanket, and watched the water rise some more. And, of course, prayed some more.

The bridge I wanted to back over before it too flooded.
The bridge I wanted to back over before it too flooded.

Total Darkness

Part of me listened, hoping the sound of the fire engine running was actually the sound of a helicopter in the distance, coming to pluck me from the water. The other part of me dared let my mind wander for just a bit. Until it went completely dark. My headlights were dimming as the battery was dying. If that was not eerie enough, I realized the lights of the fire truck were gone as well. My husband’s headlights were gone. Thinking I was all alone out there, I started praying some more, this time not only for the things I was before but also for the rain to stop and the water to recede. The sound of water hitting the undercarriage of the truck and rushing all around me as the truck rocked gently in the water was sickening.

Some time passed before something told me to check the water on the floor. It was lowering. I was almost giddy! But I checked again just to be sure. I prayed some more and checked yet again. Yes, definitely receding. Every once in awhile I saw flashes of what I thought might be flashlights where the fire truck was. Eventually my husband’s headlights returned. But the most exciting thing to me was that the water was even receding away from the truck. I was beginning to see the road again! On both sides of the truck! Watching and waiting. Watching and waiting, but with relief. I was beginning to think that I might be waiting until daylight to get out of there.

The Rescue

Eventually the water did recede enough that I noticed the flashlight was actually coming closer to me. Finally! Someone was coming through the water for me. I had no idea if he was tied to a rope or if he was walking through low enough waters to wade without any issues. But I was grateful. I put my jacket on, made sure the doors were locked, and took the key out of the ignition.

“Hello,” was all I said.

“Hello. Are you ready to get wet?”

“No, not really. But I sure am ready to get out of here!”

He slipped a life jacket on over my head and then instructed me to take him by the arm. With assurances that it was not going to be that rough, we began walking back through the water. He kept telling me that it would get a bit harder when we made it to the bridge, but then it would get better once we crossed it. Onward we went into waist deep, cold water. Sure enough, traversing the bridge was not easy. The current was fast enough that things floated by around us, pieces of debris and tree branches. The rescuer just kept telling me to keep going. As long as we just kept going we would be okay. I could rest after we crossed the bridge.

After we crossed the bridge, however, I had no desire to stop and rest even though it was offered. I just needed to be out of the water and away from it completely. So I chose to just keep moving forward until I was clear of the water, where I found out that the fire truck had tried prematurely to come into the water after me. It was too deep, though, and knocked out power to the truck, which was why the lights disappeared. The fireman had to crawl out of his window and then call for someone else to come pull the truck back to the station.

When I made it to my husband’s truck, the children were quick to inform me that I was trapped for four hours. Four of the longest, yet shortest hours of my life. It did not seem as if that much time could possibly have gone by. Oh, but it had. From about 11:30 p.m when I first tried to turn around to 3:30 a.m. after being rescued from the flood waters in spite of my efforts not to get caught in it. It was hard to sleep even once I was safely home, warm in my own bed. I felt nauseated as I listened to more rain begin to pour outside.

After Thoughts

According to FEMA, it takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. Maybe it was a good thing I was stuck in a ditch. After all, I felt the water rocking the truck. I had no idea whether or not I was making the right decisions, but had I decided to go to higher ground outside of the truck, I would have been washed away with the water. My body would have been one of the bodies found the next morning. Yes, there were something like 16 high water rescues and 4 fatalities due to the floods. Things could have gone a lot differently. What a sobering thought.

Floods of Life

Life is full of challenges to face and to overcome, full of things constantly rushing at us from various directions. If we are not careful, we can let those floods bowl us down and pull us under. Turbulent times within a relationship or any number of other situations. How we handle these things is what really matters, though, because how we handle the emotions and the panic determines how well we swim when trapped in those floods of life.

I am forever grateful to friends and family that have been by my side, loved me at my worst, and continue to laugh with me at my best. That is what I aspire to be for others. I cannot expect to wade through high waters unsafe for me to traverse in order to save someone and I would not want someone to do that for me. But what I can do is be there waiting after the flood recedes.


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    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, Larry!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

      Always interesting.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, manatita. I guess it made a good story, if nothing else. :)

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Maria, thank you. I try to hang onto those things, including my sense of humor. I do believe laughter is the best remedy. :) Hugs back at ya!!!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 20 months ago from london

      A very scary, yet compelling story, and told in a way requiring breath-taking attention.

      Yes, the power of Faith and love of family is indeed powerful and commendable. Amidst it all, God sits in Silence and watches, nourishing us, as is necessary for His supreme Will, our own sojourn and receptivity to His Light.

      Whew! What a tough one and told so well! Praise be!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 20 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Shanmarie,

      Thanks for sharing this harrowing story of survival and resiliency.

      Faith and family ... what a powerful combination, along with your beautiful sense of humor.

      Hugs, Maria

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, sweet Theresa! Some of the things that went through my mind. . .just wow, what an experience. I am lucky for so many reasons. Yeah, maybe I could have been out from between the bridges had I just backed up anyway, but I was fortunate that I did back up to pretty much the highest ground there. And being stuck might have kept the truck from being carried off somewhere. They found at least one person still in the car, decreased. A couple came to try go down the road I was on, telling my husband they were trying to find their son who called to say he was swept off somewhere. Just wow.

      On a lighter note, I told someone earlier that when my mind was wandering, one of the first things through my mind was what if what I had in my writing folder got ruined? Research for a project and handwritten chapters. Then I remembered I had it backed up online. You know you're a writer when. . .LOL

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 20 months ago from southern USA

      Oh, I am so thankful you are okay, Shan! Whew, I have a terrible fear of rising water and so you did so well and remained calm, which is the key to not panic. I praise the sweet Lord for you. Reading your words I felt like I was right there with you. Thank you for sharing and imparting some of your life's wisdom through your experience.


    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Aww. . .Thanks, MsDora! After I finished I worried it might be a little long to read, at least for Hubpages. I'm glad you found it to be both interesting and inspirational.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Eric, thank you. I'd like to think people come out better than before after a struggle. The alternative, after all, is the exact opposite. No one wants that.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 20 months ago from The Caribbean

      You tell the story very well; I could never have stopped before I knew how things turned out. I sighed my sigh of relief, and then you took me down an inspirational path. Brilliant!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well done. I think we learn a great deal from how other people handle(d) problems. You are fine so it made you better for it. I sure am glad your fine.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Nellieanna, surprised to see you here. Thanks.

      After I charged my phone I had a few text messages from my children come in. One text asked me "are you dead?" One of them was my son asking me to honk the horn again so that he knew I was okay. He must have sent that after both my phone and the truck no longer had power and I could no longer do that if I wanted to. And I was and still am on occasion being peppered with questions from them about it.

      Nellieanna, you live close enough to know generally where this was happening. I'm sure you saw the news reports about the flooding and the deaths. I am so thankful it was not worse, believe me. And I am thankful for my choice to let others know I care, even those once close that are estranged or gone for good or those I am not often able to speak with. If, by chance, those people still care about me too, they would know without a doubt I cared should something unthinkable happen. There's even been a recent news report of a shooting at the motel we lived in before we moved to that apartment. I expected something like that to happen when we lived there. We just never know what life will bring. It's just too short. Let the river carry away the debris and leave me still standing. Let me back off when I need to and still be there when things calm down again.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 20 months ago from TEXAS

      Thank God. How great that you were spared for your children!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Thank you, Ruby! As I told Jodah, I wasn't planning to necessarily publicly share it. So you can thank Martie for that. ;) I was talking to her about it after seeing the comments she left me on FB and it made me think that maybe I could use the experience to share something more meaningful than simply a terrifying experience I likely will not recall most of after time passes, at least not in the same way with so many emotions.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      It made me tremble too, Martie, but I was thinking about it when it was in progress! Until I forced myself to remain calm and just wait and see what happened.

      Martie, I also want to thank you again for your thoughts and prayers that night. I found your message on FB after I got home that night and charge my phone. I can't tell you how much it means to me to know people were praying with me.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 20 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Such a harrowing experience! You told your story so well. I was captivated throughout. Happy all is well now. You made a meaningful point when you expressed your final thoughts. Thank you for sharing..

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 20 months ago from South Africa

      What an awful experience! Only thinking about the worse that could have happened to you makes me shiver. I am so glad the worse did not happen to you, shanmarie.

      True, life is filled with situations like this. By staying true to ourselves we survive.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, Venkatachari! Keeping calm and balanced is not always easy, but often necessary. Perhaps lofe saving.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Jodah, from a writer's perspective, yes, which is one of the reasons I shared. But from a personal perspective, it was intense and terrifying and I don't often share those type of things with many, all of the emotions even when telling what happened. Those things are so personal. But I try to step out of my comfort zone in hopes maybe something I have to say may matter to someone somehow even if I never know.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, drbj! I have always been one ro generally reacr after the fact in an emergency. This was so different, though, because it was so long and waiting and watching was all that I could do.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago from Texas

      Hugs to you too, Leslie! I don't know about brilliant, but I am glad I got back in the truck!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 20 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Much terrific experience undergone by you. Glad to see you are safe, though went through those long hours of frightening night. Thanks for sharing these experiences and the message of keeping faith with cool and balanced mind.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for sharing your harrowing experience Shanmarie. Glad the prayers worked and you kept your head. It could have been much worse, it did make for a good hub though.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 20 months ago from south Florida

      I'm happy for you and your family, shanmarie, that you are still around to tell this harrowing story. What a frightening experience! Fortunately, during that terrifying time, you were able to keep cool and make the correct decisions that saved your life.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 20 months ago

      Jesus girl, i have goosegumps!

      you must have been terrified!! You were brilliant, in my opinion. Great thinking under great pressure Shan!

      SO glad it wasn't any worse!