We didn't have a little rain. We had six inches in seventy-five minutes, bringing massive flooding to nearly all parts of the city and county. I've been told southwest Jefferson was spared. West Louisville, Old Louisville, and downtown seemed to have been hit the hardest, but all parts were hit hard. The picture at left shows the height of the water on 4th Street at the Main Library. That's two bookmobiles mostly submerged, along with one car to the left completely submerged. The Library's lower level, housing tens of thousands of books, suffered great damage.
My damage was less. It was a loss of books, an antique chair which belonged to my grandmother's aunt, a table, and some incidental stuff sitting on the floor in the garage. Based on the water lines on the wall, the water there rose sixteen inches. In the cellar of the house, the damage was more severe, at least as far as cost. The water heater is messed up but fixable. The furnace is messed up and apparently not fixable. Down there the water apparently rose to thirty inches.
Then there was the attempted drive into work. As a habit, I drive in along Witherspoon Street, which is two block closer to the river, and thus downhill, than my street. But there are a few dips along N. Shelby Street along the way which in dry weather aren't really noticeable. I drove through one of them realizing about 1/3 the way through that my little low-lying Chevy Aveo probably wasn't designed for water-bogging. Emerging on the other side of that little dip it then dawned on me all the water was headed, along with me, downhill to Witherspoon Street. I got as close as I could, which is to say close enough to see Witherspoon Street had become Witherspoon River. I turned around and tried to go back the way I came. The water had risen and my access across "the little dip" was no more. I cut through the Allied Concrete company lot over to N. Campbell Street hoping to somehow go south instead of north. To no avail. I sat at the intersection of N. Campbell and Water streets for about forty-five minutes, watching the water rising all around, although I was perched on a slight rise and did not feel to be in danger.
The problem is I am very claustrophobic. While the interior of my Aveo is much larger than you might imagine from a little puddle-jumper of a car, there was to be no puddle-jumping today as the water on all sides continued to rise with me on an little island in the midst. In all my years of driving, I don't ever remembering panicking. I've driven in some odd and rough places, and more than a few tough places, but I've never panicked. I like to think I've never been lost, although my mother would argue that point due to a drive one day in northern Garrard County. Never lost, and never before scared. But I recognised that I was about to be so, scared, but not lost as I was sitting there within 500 feet of my home. I could see my towering Locust tree, the highest tree in Butchertown. But I could not have walked there if I wanted, and I wanted. I could feel the effects of claustrophobia.
I decided to drive down the sidewalk on the east side of Campbell, alongside an industrial building. The Aveo might be big-inside, but it is still a puddle-jumper, or in this case, not much wide than a little red wagon on the sidewalk. I made it along the building, coming down off the curb onto Geiger Street thus avoiding the panic that I came very close to not-thus-avoiding.
You always hear the warnings about not driving into rushing/running waters, as they are always deeper than you think. I now know exactly where, within 500 feet of my house, those waters can absolutely run deep.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The Archives at Milepost 606
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- Jeff Noble
- Louisville, Kentucky, United States
- Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.