I was only five years old when the infamous Flood of ’85 washed away a chunk of southwest Virginia. I really don’t remember much about it, and most of what I do know has been pieced together from old news footage and exaggerated memories.
I was in kindergarten at East Salem Elementary School. When the heavens opened up, it was determined that we, the students, would be safer staying at the school rather than risk putting us on buses. In my mind, I can see mobile homes from the nearby trailer park floating by our classroom windows. I doubt the water from Mason Creek got as close as I remember, otherwise the school itself would have been in a couple inches of water and we would have been evacuated.
That flood has gone down in history as this legendary meteorological event that has been unequaled in this region since that time. Now, we face a similar, if not worse, potential catastrophe.
In recent weeks, we’ve received many consecutive days of nonstop rain. Thus far, Tuesday provided the worst of it with roads being flooded and even, in some cases, destroyed by the rising waters. Wednesday provided some respite from precipitation, allowing local streams and rivers to recede. But more is coming.
The ground is saturated. With more rain in the forecast and Hurricane Joaquin looming off the coast, the potential devastation could surpass what was seen thirty years ago. The fact that a flood will come is not up for debate. The question is, how can we prepare?
I don’t have those answers. The situation demands common sense, though. If you’re out driving when it hits, don’t try to get through standing water. You can’t know how deep it goes or how strong the current may actually be. It isn’t worth losing your car or your life to get to the other side of that water. If your home is near a place that’s prone to flooding or is in a low lying area, find somewhere to go that is higher and safer. Be prepared for power outages. Have candles, batteries, water, and food.
It looks like it’s gonna be a rough weekend. Pray for safety in the coming storm.