Thursday, September 8, 2011

From Hopeless to Helpful

Over the course of the last 24 hours my neck of the woods has gotten anywhere between 12 - 15 inches of rain. If you've never lived through a flood (or a tornado, earthquake or hurricane I'm sure), it's hard to put into words the hopeless feeling you feel as you watch the devastation take place around you. Last night we watched our feeds on Facebook show us our friends' and families' struggles with flooded basements and loss of property all while we were stuck at our own house. As desperate as we were to get out and help we couldn't because all of the roads to the people who needed us were blocked.

School was cancelled due to damaged and flooded roads, and my husband made the decision not to open his store around 7AM so we were prepared to just ride things out, wish we could help, and worry about our own wet basement. Then, around 10AM we finally had the chance to help out.

Every Friday night we have dinner and spend the evening with friends at Shank's Tavern in Marietta, PA. If you check out the website you can see a short summary of its extensive history and all the fun we have there. When you think of Shank's you should think of the TV show Cheers. It's just that kind of bar, and we love our friends that we have met there. Shank's is located right on the banks of the Susquehanna River, and when the river reaches flood stages above 52 feet they begin to get water in the basement. After our tremendous rainfalls of the last 24 hours the river is forecasted to crest sometime over the weekend between 62 and 63 feet.

This morning as we were continuing to get updates on Facebook, I saw that the owner of Shank's posted that they needed help at the tavern. They have survived two severe floods (one in the 1830s and one due to Hurricane Agnes in 1972) and several minor floods by moving all of the items from the bar upstairs or out. The owner and his wife live next door to the bar so they needed help as well. FINALLY (thanks to social media if you didn't already catch that) my husband and I could help. The tavern is located in the one place that we could actually get to without getting detoured or blocked by flooded roads.

We headed to Shank's at about 10AM and joined a group of about 15-20 other people who helped moved things upstairs, into refrigerator trucks, into moving vans, into personal vehicles and into a moving truck (of the tractor trailer variety) to make sure that our friends would be safe and have as many belongings as possible to get back on track when the water level recedes. Just after we finished packing up the last items from the house water began flooding into the basements, and in less than 30 minutes the water was to the main floor of the house.
Front street at about 11:30 AM

An empty Shank's just doesn't seem quite right

Our friends' yard

And the basement is flooded

More water along the side of the building

Same shot of Front Street 2:30 PM.

It's a choice to live and work in a place like Front Street in Marietta, and I know that our friends have lived through this before and will do it again. But that doesn't make the power of Mother Nature less scary and the losses felt by those up and down the street less painful. I am thankful that our friends and their dog will be safe, I'm thankful that we could do a small part, and I am thankful that I will have the opportunity to help carry all that stuff back down the steps so that we can have some fun again in the near future.

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