After the rain, I passed out in the plush cushions of the leather recliner in my parent’s den, a stuffy, fussy Little Psychick lying on my lap (see Illustration 1a2, coming).
When I awoke, all the nagging thoughts I’d let slip during our escape and rescue of my parent’s basement returned. Thoughts like, I should have taken time to unplug all the appliances and expensive electronics in our place, or like all my newspaper clippings from the past ten years were likely a sticky mash of newsprint.
I really just wanted to know what happened to our stuff.
Confident of the traveling conditions I drove back over to our place with the wife and son. When we arrived we saw the street next to the condo complex lined with cars. In the distance we could see the infamous yellow tape of law enforcement. I imagined that a few feet beyond that marker would be the edge of the flood waters.
The homes I’d seen earlier along our escape route were untouched by the brown soup of sewage the flood had created. I hadn’t recognized it before but we lived on a large sized pitcher’s mound. Some houses sat at the apex and others, facing home plate, on the deep side. Those places on first and third base were nearly under water.
I had to walk from the side of the road deep into the complex to get to our house. The land was muddy and of wet grass and each step soaked my sneakers. I looked down at my shoes to see they were covered with a grey cloud film, and on the sides of my soles that film remains still.
I could tell that others had observed my escape and followed. The landscaping around that point was shredded. As I was looking over that bit of destruction and across the newly formed moat under our carport, I turned to see a friend.
This guy is an odd sort, the kind of guy who would put his son in a truck and drive out in the mess just to see if we were okay. That sort. My wife and son had joined him in the trek across the mud, and the two boys frolicked in the gunk.
Still, I had to see what happened to our stuff. I didn’t want to walk through the flood waters, I knew I’d be walking through feces of human and animal, remains of old food, earthworms and plain old dirt. Yet it was getting dark, now or never.
I kicked off my already wet sneakers and dipped into the void. By the time I was in the carport I was in butt deep. Dirt had demarked the high water point about two feet above the cement, which wasn’t too terrifying until I got to the back door and noticed that the ground was lower at that point, so there was about two and a half to three feet of water in the house.
Toys, clothes and shoes floated about in the utility room. The computer was covered up to the DVD drive bay. I didn’t try to count or catalogue items after the first ten casualties, the last of which in that area was the imported rice cooker. In the next room, game consoles and DVD players and the 5.1 receiver all soaked, and while the plasma was dry, I knew it would be dead given that I’d left it plugged in.
Anything stored below two feet was gone. Anything between three and four were wet and covered in a film of gunk.
We just hoped for a quick recession of the flood waters so that we could pick out what could be salvaged. Looked to me like an impossible task at that point, and I didn’t much feel like trying. Given that we were going to be depending upon the federal government for some assistance I figured we’d need to salavage as much as possible. The saving grace of that moment was the thought that many of the anti-tax, anti-government fake Federalists in our neighborhood were going to be holding out their tin cans to FEMA like the rest of us, asking President Obama if he could spare a dime.
I grabbed my video camera and left, not stopping to capture the moment on film.
Outside, the boys were still playing. Psychick was crying. No one else was around.
The next day we planned to go back. The sun was beaming that morning but an investigation of the home’s status would have to wait. Little Psychick, approaching her second birthday, was sweltering under the heat of a 101 degree fever.