Southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, an area commonly referred to as "the Ozarks," have been dealing with rain, often heavy, for the past couple of weeks. This last Saturday, after the ground was already saturated, we had several hours of a continuous heavy thunderstorm, a storm that set the whole border area adrift in flood waters.
I grew up in southwest Missouri in Noel, a small town located at the point where Butler Creek flows into Elk River, and in my time I have done my share of filling sandbags and helping move furniture and possessions to higher elevations that would hopefully be beyond the ultimate reach of the muddy waters. I have experienced some dandy floods from the front lines, and, as a fellow with much experience in dealing with rising waters, I can attest to the fact that this weekend's flooding was a major event.
The dogs and I stayed hunkered down in the house on Saturday as the rain literally poured from the sky. My house sits on a rise, and I had no concerns that the water would pose a threat to us. However, I could clearly see lakes forming on some of the lower areas of my massive yard. The rain quit at dusk - for awhile - and I walked the property and out into the paved road that runs past the front of my property. The road was clearly flooded both north and south of where I stood, yet there were vehicles trying to get through from both directions. My neighbors came out to visit when they spotted me in the street, and I listened patiently as they gave me a detailed history of earlier flooding episodes in West Plains. The current flood, they assured me was the worst in more than thirty years. Those same neighbors had already lost a big section of their new cedar fence to the flooding, and the water was nearly at the back of their house.
Later, back at the house, we (me and Rosie and Riley) were focused on television when the power suddenly went out. I'm not sure why I hadn't anticipated that because it has gone out before during storms - but I stumbled around in the dark and finally came up with three candles and a box of kitchen matches - and there was light! The power remained out for four hours which probably ruined the few peacock and guinea eggs that I had in an incubator, but all else survived intact.
Yesterday morning I awoke to learn that the wi-fi was out - and it remained out most of the day. No wi-fi is a major inconvenience to someone who, when he isn't busy taking care of the farm animals, can usually be found at the computer. Then to compound the situation, my cell phone suddenly went stone-cold dead. I did have electricity, but as far as contact with the outside world, Pa Rock was completely unplugged.
There is no way to convey how powerless it feels to not have instant communication with the outside world seventeen years into the twenty-first century!
I drove into town in the early afternoon in search of an iced tea, which I was able to find at a convenience store located on high ground. Most of the roads were clear and accommodating traffic, though a few were still closed. The convenience store that I usually frequent was closed and roped off, and my mechanic whose shop is across the road from that quick stop was busy hauling wet furniture out of his office and waiting area. It looked as though he had his whole crew in to help with the clean-up. I also saw one new storage building that had washed across a four-lane highway and toppled onto a new car in lot of bedraggled new and used cars. The most striking image, however, was of new lumber strewn about the golf course. It had floated in, by the hundreds of boards, from a lumber yard located on a rise above the golf course.
My son, a collector of strays, came home in the middle of last night with a friend and her teenage daughter whose cabin on the river had been washed away. They lost all of their possessions - except for the four family dogs. Today I have been assisting in trying to find more permanent shelter for the unfortunate family. I was told by a representative of the Red Cross that there are no known shelter facilities in the area that will accept pets. That is a need that some charitable organization should be striving to fill because pets are an important part of many families.
The good news is that my phone is once again working and the wi-fi is up - giving me access to chatter with Alexa, binge-watching Netflix with the Roku, and venting my spleen in the blog!
I will survive!