Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Flash

Monday, September 8, the area of Tucson where I live received a bit of rain. That might not seem so unusual to most folks, but we are located in the Sonoran desert. Annual rainfall is supposed to be about eleven inches in a year, but for each of the past twelve years we haven't received more than nine. Monday, we got four inches in less than one hour.

There is no way one can prepare for something of this nature. The ground has baked all summer into brick. Shrubs and small plants are withered and dry. This town is notorious for rain falling on one side of the street and not the other. So when meteorologists say, "Expect rain to be heavy at times in isolated areas," one shrugs and sets out the rainwater collecting buckets, just in case.

Four inches. In less than one hour. On the hill above my house. Watching out the front window,
The high watermark on the side of our house, about 18".
the deluge looked like Nature's own ice bucket challenge. My husband went out to check the garage and I heard the expletives. As I turned out of the kitchen to go see what he was yelling about, I saw a shallow sea emerging through the guest bath, steadily advancing up the hall. In less than two minutes, the  bath and back bedrooms held three inches of water from wall to wall with Putin-like designs to annex the rest of the house.

Forget the garage.

It's amazing what water can do.The flash flood swept debris from the desert against our back gate and created a dam, forcing water to back up and rise like a lock in a canal. Husband ran out and forced the gate open--and was nearly swept off his feet by the rush into the back yard. So much water moved so fast, it lifted two creosote-soaked railroad ties that had been embedded for eighteen years from their places and shifted them nearly four feet sideways, not to mention a few boulders rolled like marbles.

It's amazing how two people armed with every towel, rag, sheet, and blanket can construct Hoover Dam in a matter of minutes. Then came the race to move the contents of the rooms out of harm's way as fast as possible. Thank goodness we didn't have company visiting, and thank goodness I'm a plastic bin sort of pack rat.

A dustpan makes a good water scoop. A Swiffer turned on its side is a dandy squeegee.  We pushed and sopped and scooped and sopped and scooped and pushed. Some time during the rush my husband had the notion to call the carpet cleaners we use. They sent an angel with a huge vacuum pump and industrial fans within twenty minutes. It was still raining when he arrived, but the tides were receding.

We were very fortunate. There wasn't wall damage outside, only some sad drywall inside. The constant drone of four industrial fans has finally silenced and the carpet has returned to a somewhat normal state. We'll need to repair some things, toss some others, but all in all we are grateful it wasn't worse than it turned out to be.

Happy writing,


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Wow! What a scene you painted. Our daughter lives in Phoenix. I worried all over again, but nothing as dramatic happened exactly there.

Glad you're okay. Things can be replaced, people cannot.

Olga Godim said...

Gosh! That is some flood! And your description is so vivid. You should save it and use it in some of your fictional stories.

Anonymous said...

It's been a heck of a year for weather. Just finished spending eleven grand preparing damage to out roof from a hail storm. Leak poured right through the living room. Even had to replace the chimney. Plus had so much rain last two weeks water flooded right into our garage beneath both doors. Getting way too old for all this commotion.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Liz Fountain said...

Mother Nature is formidable! So is your beautiful description. Glad you are safe.


Jude Johnson said...

Thanks everyone. Mike, I am so glad you're okay as well but what a total pain in the ass these repairs are!