I wrote this little piece a few years ago but exactly on this date so there is hope.
This could happen!
I have just returned home safely, which is no small feat. After almost two months of no significant rainfall, the city streets are awash in the culmination of oil dripped from engines, splatters of gasoline from overfilled tanks, pulverized tire rubber from speedy getaways and sudden stops, leaves who have left dry trees, tossed banana peels, an entire city’s refuse of ozone from underarm deodorant and hairspray, and the last leavings of DDT sprayed to kill the deadly West Nile Virus.
Going south on the interstate, the northbound lanes were slowing to a stop, the result of an 18 wheeler having traction issues on a sloping, curving, six-lane freeway which has always been slick even if the Devil only thinks of sneezing. I was almost to my exit but not yet up to speed when my tires danced sideways. Later on, a big ruby Caddy passed me on the left, throwing half of Niagara Falls on the windshield.
When I was a freshman in a college out of state, I turned on the radio to hear the National Guard had been called out to my hometown because of floodwaters. Until that day, I had only thought of tornadoes as a threat, not flashfloods. A call home verified the shocking news of innocent people carried away in the swift floodwaters, in places usually safe. The flood’s result was newly engineered drainage culverts and storm sewers.
Changing my route home in order to avoid the tail light road show up head of me, I
passed above a city park, just blocks from the historic flooding area. Thinking people devised the park entrance/exit to pass through a low water bridge, years before the flood. Perhaps they were thinking it would add to the park’s sense of adventure.
A drenching rain washes out the sky, and some people’s brains. Either ignorant of the past or just ignorant, people purposefully drive to the park. “Hey Charlie, let’s go watch the water rise and see if we get caught!” Or “Wow, we could have fifteen minutes of fame,” at the least, a 30 second spot on the news. After all, there is nothing pleasant about sitting home on a rainy day, when you can risk floating sideways down a fairly non-threatening, but nonetheless, flooded creek.
At a time when the police are busy with real needs, like Med Flight and the Jaws of Life and gigantic traffic tie ups, the lucky traffic policeperson is standing in a yellow raincoat rolling her eyes at J.S. Public fjording the low water bridge. Even though the trees in the crook of the creek will catch the car, he still has to be rescued from his costly prank. The city should erect a large sign, “Hey You! Don’t even think about it! Everyone knows this creek floods if the Devil sneezes. If you get stuck in the flow, you pay for the tow, the time and the trouble, and one year of detention, to be served standing next to this sign, every time the creek rises, day or night.”