Breaking the drought’s hold

I sit at my desk with pen and paper scribbling by candlelight.  All of the blinds are open to provide whatever light can be gained from the darkened and angry sky outside, but that is not enough by which to see clearly — or, more importantly, by which to write.  And it has been some time since I’ve done much writing with such archaic implements.  My fingers, already distracted by events occurring outside, struggle to find a stride capable of matching the speed of my thoughts, something they are better able to do when typing.  I feel them tremble in the relearning of skills long unused.

The rain keeps coming in earnest.  It has been raining for three days with increasingly potent torrents that finally gave way to downpours of biblical magnitude for much of today, droplets of rain made manifest in a curtain of water that threatens to drown everything.  The roll of thunder punctuates the event with tremors under foot, from the low rumble that is felt more than heard, to the heart-stopping crackle that explodes overhead.  Even the windows shutter and rattle in fear of the storm’s fury.  The fiery wrath of lightning dances among the clouds and touches their roiling essence with its own power, the flashes of electric-blue light momentarily pausing the world as they illuminate and chase shadows from wherever they may hide.

White Rock Lake and the creeks and tributaries that feed it began overflowing early this morning.  So much water has accumulated in the 1015-acre lake that it ignores its boundaries on all sides, consuming land in hungry and methodical expansion spurred on by unending deluges.  It is swollen so that the spillway cannot remove enough water, and large quantities of it invade the nearby streets and imperils the retaining wall at the dam.  Having already weakened the hillside in that area, there is the possibility of structural collapse and a significant movement of earth.

Major roads in this area are impassible.  Several six-lane arteries around the lake are flooded and the entire area is a minefield of moving flotsam and deep rushing water.  Treacherous obstacles abound for drivers.  It is impossible to move quickly on the roads because visibility is diminished to only a foot or two in front of the car, all manner of projectiles are afoot, rushing water is quite deep in most places and rushes uncaring past drainage systems too overwhelmed to help, and any journey at this time is fraught with peril.

And the power is out.  It has been out for several hours.  The dark traffic lights add to the dangerous condition for drivers.

The road where I live that leads into the lake park disappeared long ago, hidden under what has become an expansion of the lake itself.  An oceanic vista covers what were once large open spaces of grass and trees.  Those trees now huddle in the middle of the lake instead of their normal positions along its banks.

Transformations of this kind are not rare here although they do not generally last for long.  I have seen worse, but it is almost impossible to consider such a thing looking at it right now.

This experience must be like Bangladesh during the rainy season.  There is garbage and natural debris washing down the streets, often in muddy rivers of rainwater that consume the earth and wash it away with ease, and the rain is falling so heavily that standing ponds are everywhere regardless of slope or drainage.  There is simply too much water coming down at once for it to move easily out of the way.  What were once lazy inflows of fresh water for the lake exist at this time as raging rivers.

Because there is no power, no lights are to be seen anywhere.  It is as though we have been transported to a third-world country in a century from the past.  I feel this is like being witness to the end of the world, a tale perhaps from the Bible, and now I expect to see Noah’s ark parading by under the constant rumble of heavy rain and thunder, carried forward by the dangerous currents and flows that now cover the world.

We desperately needed rain.  The drought under which we have suffered for many months has left us with a precipitation deficit of more than a foot.  Like everyone else, I simply did not expect to catch up on our rainfall in a single weekend, to have the firmament open wide and drench us under such overwhelming amounts of rain in such a short period.  The liquid bombardment now falls so heavily that no containment can hold it.  It is a pounding and relentless avalanche of water from the sky.

Plants and animals that thrive in this area are undoubtedly welcoming of this drink from the heavens, the quenching of their drought-induced thirst many months in the making, yet no life is to be seen outside.  Even the birds have disappeared to find cover from the storm.  All of the normal wildlife I see daily has taken refuge where they can find it, and none dare venture out in this tempest.

I sit quietly and watch the storm continue its onslaught.  It is best to stay inside, best to stay out of the way of such unending and indiscriminate force.  There has already been death and destruction throughout the area.  I will stay here, methinks, and ensure the safety of home and kids, not to mention myself, and watch as nature teaches us yet again that receiving that for which we ask fails to guarantee it will not come without its own costs.

Let it come.  It’s all rather exciting to be humbled in this way.

[written yesterday afternoon at the height of the flood]

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