A Place For The Future Past

Flood, Part 3
December 16, 2007, 4:02 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

05 Thursday dawned cold, thankfully the power had been restored overnight. Since we ran out of daylight the day before (instead of returning to the shop as hoped) Em and I set out to finish supply shopping — this time livestock supply, in particular hay — I knew the flood had destroyed the local hay supply. We would be running out soon and I feared we might be forced to buy hay a bale one at a time in Chehalis — at a price of about $14 a bale (ruinious!) We also needed to drop a flood rescue kitten at the Lewis County Animal Shelter. Good news — since road crews had been working almost continuously, Hwy 6 was now open from the interstate to Pe Ell — with the exception of a landslide halfway through at Spooner Rd. So Em and I planned to try Ceres Hill Rd through Boisfort and Curtis Hill Rd, rejoining Hwy 6 on the other side of the landslide location.
As we manuevered down the treacherously steep gravel road (Ceres Hill) we could see the valley stretched out below us, and the sheer gigantic scope of the damage began to show itself. Though this was only a small portion of destruction, the damage was nearly as far as the eyes could see, a wide swath of mud edged with massive collections of wood and home debris. We crept down the hill and passed by a house that had been floated to its new location in the road, past the Boisfort dairy where tractors were busy pulling dead dairy cows out of the pens, stacking them in giant piles. Silently we drove past the Boisfort Fire Department — the trucks were being pulled out and worked on, muddy waterlines six feet high. A shed resting atop a sportscar, piles of muddy furniture and large appliances beginning to pile outside sodden homes — a sight to be repeated endlessly everywhere we could see. Muddy people gathered in shocked clusters as they began the cleanup.
Once we reached Chehalis we travelled to the animal shelter then to the feed store (the only one in the area that had not been damaged) then thanks to a tip from the shelter, we stopped at an emergency National Guard command post where we had heard free hay could be picked up. It seemed too good to be true, but when I flashed my driver’s license their faces furrowed with concern at the mention of Leudinghaus Rd, and we were loaded up with a weeks worth of the precious hay.
We retraced our path (except for the upsetting drive past the shattered dairy) choosing to travel home via the freshly scraped Hwy 6. The new back exit in and out had opened up by then and we were relieved the trip home was uneventful — both of us were wiped out from the two day forage for emergency supplies (and I was feeling a cold coming on). We stopped in at a community meeting where we gathered up stacks of informational handouts plus a well testing kit. We were being encouraged to get tetanus and hepatitus shots, told not to use our water until testing, told where to pick up bottled water, how deep to bury our animals (thankfully we had escaped that tragedy). Once home were both exhausted but satisfied — I felt safer in taking the truck the next day to work — the home was well stocked as well as set up with the generator should another outage occurred.
06 Friday was cold and wet, I allowed an extra half hour for the new commute and good news — the interstate had reopened, also the Spooner Rd slide cleared, so once I reached Hwy 6 at Doty (across the last standing bridge in the area — a scary-ass bridge how it survived I have no clue) it was more or less the normal trip to work. Once there I wanted to check messages and email — my first chance since I had been there almost a week ago. As I plowed into the long list of emails, I had to stop every so often to answer anxious posts from friends and family (my sister). By the time I got to the phone messages I was stopping every so often to collect myself as I would quite unexpectantly start bursting into tears. I couldn’t help it — I had been feeling completely insulated by the disaster and more than a little overwhelmed by everything we had witnessed. In telling over and over I began purging the layers of — something — and was feeling more than a little humbled by the outpouring of concern. Strangely too was a new feeling of guilt — we had not suffered like others were suffering. (That night too the nightmares began — the river would rage all over again in my sleep).
Once home again Em filled me in on the first official visit — an army corps fellow who was checking house to house, in case of folks unable to come to town for supplies. He was mightily impressed by the yurt (it looks very unassuming from the outside, inside it’s quite civilized and cozy). He looked over the water control project we had started and Em told him of our plans to install a winter running water powered system. He gave her several valuable tips on how to proceed and left, evidently satisfied at our condition. (it was kinda cute — he asked how we were shaping the whole plan and was shocked at the answer — with shovels and other hand tools. And this answer was coming from Em, a woman old enough to be his mom)
07 Saturday — one week later — another work day and my body was showing the strain as my cold was coming on in full force. After the initial weirdness of leaving our neighborhood laid waste and crossing into the normal world (where the realities of the disaster were already starting to fade in the conciousness of those who did not live there) it was comforting but bizarre to be at my shop surrounded by something that had not changed one bit, knowing that later I would be plunged anew into our community turned upside down.
I finally reached the bottom of my email messages — it took two days to go through them all, contacting concerned friends and replying to the relieved message sent by my sister and others who had been anxiously hoping we were spared. Those folk who had visited Dryad’s Rest knew we were probably safe — we are on a hill. But those who looked up my address on Mapquest or Googlemaps were frantic — the maps would show my address located on the street itself where the mailbox was located, not the actual property up the long driveway and above the trail. Which would have placed us right in the raging Chehalis at the crest of the flood.
Coming home I learned of our second offical visitor, Fireman Mac. A big, burly hunting good ol boy who also left satisfied that we were all in good shape — and very impressed by what we were doing at Dryad’s Rest. He took in the greenhouse, was VERY impressed with the very clean barn (GOATS? You have a barn for GOATS?) of course the yurt and loved the look of the woods and the cleaning of brambles — the hunter in him could not resist asking about the local deer population. Em told him how two bucks were felled (with permits, thank you) practically from the back porch. Yes he was impressed and maybe even a teeny bit envious.


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