Well the world may not come to an end on December 21, 2012, but this week sure has been a crazy one. As you may realize this column is usually written a few days before the paper goes to bed for Saturday morning so I am actually writing this on Monday while we have power. With some good luck, we hopefully did not lose power here in Summit Hill, but my thoughts and prayers are out tonight with the first responders and the linemen who are doing their best to keep our properties whole. It is an amazing, historic storm and we are currently in the midst of it as I write this column.
I never dreamed I would see Manhattan underwater the way it is tonight. An entire building face has come off the building. Trees are coming down on cars and it is a real mess. What I don't get is why some people do not take this seriously. This is one of those situations where you don't want to be a Darwin Award winner by doing something dumb. I have seen plenty of that though as well. Surfers in Ocean City during the hurricane, people standing on porches watching the wind careen down the street and those out and about in cars on the highway when they should be home. Some people just never learn that they are not invulnerable. I don't get that.
Does the adrenalin rush equal doing stupid things? We all do them from time to time, I suppose, but some risks are just plain dumb. Riding a surfboard in the middle of a hurricane is close to the top of my list, but so is something a bit more mundane. Driving a car into a flooded roadway. Apparently people think, "Oh that won't happen to me." I have news for you. Oh yes it will. No one is invulnerable to the fury of Mother Nature and it is only fitting that the substance which gives us life can so easily take it away. Why would you fool around with that?
Just about a month ago, I witnessed it again. I was on my way home during the drenching rain that inundated Lehighton and flooded Lizard Creek causing it to spill over its banks all along the waterway including flooding a nearby area of Route 309 at the base of the Blue Mountain. As I came down the mountain hoping to beat the ever increasing rainfall total, I discovered my path blocked by a four foot wide swath of water. There was a line of cars in front of me and sitting near it and sure enough someone attempted to drive through it. Fortunately they came to their senses and backed away before the were unable to get out of it, but it really made me wonder.
I am not unlike everyone else. You look at that relatively thin swath of water and one thinks, "Oh, it can't happen to me," but it does. No one is protected from water. I remember a viral YouTube video from Germany I believe where a woman drives right past the barriers and into a flooded intersection only to discover the water is more than five feet deep and her car instantly disappeared into innocent looking puddle. Believe it or not, that water truly can be much deeper than one thinks.
It reminds me of the flood last year in Lebanon when I wrote a feature while being trapped on the third floor of a hotel during the historic flooding of Irene in the Susquehanna Valley. We woke at 5:30 p.m. to find the parking lot almost three quarters flooded. I quickly got dressed and Katie and I went downstairs to unload the bags from the car for what was to be an overnight sojourn. She got everything up to our room while I dealt with the car. The water was swiftly rising at that point and the exit to the parking lot was at least three feet below the position of my car.
Some stranded truck drivers on the highway helped me get the Subaru out of the parking lot and instructed me as to where the water was shallowest and even that was over a foot deep. I drove the car a half mile up a hill and parked it. A good Samaritan gave me a ride back to the hotel and I hiked through water that was now almost two feet deep.
About two hours later, the tourists who stood and watched the water rise while I worked to move my car decided they should move their cars. By that point some of them were in water up to the top of the wheel. The water was beginning to get contaminated as they decided it was time to move their cars. I watched as they half floated out of the parking lot and it made me wonder.
Apparently as tourists, we all tend to believe that no harm can befall us and the rules of the real world do not apply. Not true. As they found out while flood waters were damaging their vehicles, the real world does not care if you are a tourist. They eventually moved the cars but it took a bit longer and was much more dangerous than it would have been if they moved them when I was trying to save my car.
No one is invulnerable. Anything can happen to anyone at any point when the right circumstances are in place. We must always be vigilant when we travel and know where the escape routes are in hotels and understand what to do in an emergency.
Just a final reminder, Tuesday November 6th is Election Day and this year it is for the Presidency. If you are registered, make sure you do not complain.
Til Next time.