The View from Whites Creek and Bordeaux


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I woke up Sunday morning to discover that the whole house was surrounded by water, and a small but raging river had formed down my driveway. Even in the overcast, the whole yard took on a silver shimmer that was hard to look at.

My brother went out, immediately, to assess the damage, fishing the watering can and our snow shovel out of the front yard and then sandbagging the garage to prevent more water from coming in.

And then we waited, to see if we would have to leave.

We had no plan for leaving, and I'm honestly not sure how we would have left, if we could have gotten down the driveway or not.

And then, inexplicably, even as the rain kept coming down, the water in our yard receded.

Except it wasn't inexplicable.

Our good fortune was our downstream neighbors' grave misfortune. Whites Creek had burst its banks.

We took off this morning to drive around and look at things. We found our cooler wedged in the concrete railing of the bridge over the Dry Fork Creek on Buena Vista.

And shortly after that, we found a neighbor's house in the road at the corner of Buena Vista and Hummingbird. Not a mobile home, an honest-to-god house that moved off its foundation and on down the street.

People were out. Some were milling around, checking in with each other. Others were already setting furniture out in the yard to dry out. The front yards on West Hamilton are full of other people's garbage, some of it probably mine.

Tucker Road doesn't go across Whites Creek anymore. At least, not for a while.

Kids with delighted "holy shit" faces jogged across streets to see one more unbelievable thing, while grown-ups gathered in solemn threesomes.

Whites Creek still stretches all across the open fields and into people's backyards — lower than it was when it moved homes and broke bridges, but higher than we know it.

We went over to Dickerson to get something to eat and then tried to see what we could see down by the riverfront. The water at Dickerson and Cleveland smelled so strongly of gasoline that it hurt my nose. And yet kids were playing in it.

We drove across the Shelby Street Bridge to be two of at least a hundred all stopped in the right lane, momentarily abandoning our cars to stand at the railing and watch downtown drown.

Eventually, we headed back home. Our last stop was the Buena Vista bridge over the Dry Fork Creek. Bart got out of the car and freed our cooler from the bridge. He put it in the trunk and we brought it home.


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