Saturday, September 10, 2011
The perfect storm, they're calling it--that odd combination of the jet stream, the remnants of a tropical storm, the hurricane out in the Atlantic. All we know here is that it sent a steady trail of rain running right up the Susquehanna River Valley this week. In the past, we old-timers measured everything by Hurricane Agnes, back in '72. "Well, if you'd been through Agnes..." we'd say whenever the subject of floods came up.
But the river has made such comments obsolete, setting new, painful records which put over a quarter of Bloomsburg, our town, under water. Out here in the country we went through our own creek flooding on Wednesday, coming out with nothing worse than a couple of feet of water in the barn, ground water in the springhouse, and a lot of worry. I discovered myself baking muffins while checking the water rise, and I remembered that on that Thursday when Agnes hit, I'd baked a cherry pie. Apparently my default action to disaster is to start baking.
Now all we can do is watch and wait for the river to go down in town, praying for our friends who have been evacuated but unable even to go and help them. In the midst of the water and mud and misery, small stories of hope and heroism keep surfacing, reminding us that sometimes when conditions are at their worst, people are at their best.
Our community radio station, a dying breed, has stayed on air and on flood coverage 24/7, keeping people informed, bringing families together, directing help where it's needed. This despite the fact that the station didn't have electricity and many of its personnel had homes in the danger zone. Individuals and groups have sprung into action without being asked, putting on meals for any who need it, no questions asked, while local restaurants ferried food to the Red Cross evacuation centers as long as they had power and water.
It will be a long time before Bloomsburg and the other river towns are back to normal, but it will happen. Lives will be rebuilt along with homes, the park and the fairgrounds will once again be our community's pride. But we won't forget the flood of September 2011 in a hurry.
If you're of a mind to help, check out the website of the American Red Cross. They're doing their usual wonderful job with the aid of local volunteers, and they can always use your support.