Our journey over the river and through the states to Grandmother’s house we went turned out to have more adventures than we bargained for last weekend.
We live in southwestern Indiana, 10 minutes from Kentucky and 30 minutes from Illinois. My family is an hour’s drive away in Illinois, and we planned a family gathering last weekend. Flash flood warnings had been issued because of pouring rain.
Our 19 year old daughter was visiting friends in Central Illinois and planned to meet us there. Her route to my mother’s home would take her 3 hours, including driving through the town where she was in a car wreck last summer that didn’t hurt her but totaled the car.
As we prepared to go last Saturday, I worried about the downpour, flooding, and risk to our basement. So I prayed if our basement were at risk, for something to stop us from going to Illinois. It didn’t. We learned our daughter not only was dealing with rain but also was scraping ice from her car further up north.
Great. So she was going to drive to meet us not only through flooding but also ice. But she assured us the ice was not on the roads. I prayed for her safety. Like all mothers, I wanted her drive to be in perfect weather, under a sky filled with rainbows and unicorns.
We arrived in Illinois and she wasn’t there. We hadn’t heard from her in 3 hours, and it was a 3-hour car trip. I got a call from a different Illinois number, and my heart began to pound. I called it, and it was a gas station on her route – she wasn’t sure where her cell phone was but wanted us to know she was on her way but had had to re-route because of flooding. She was about a 30 minute drive away. She told us which route she was taking and hung up. Then I checked roads and learned her route had closed roads because of flooding. I called the number she called us from again – a Verizon store in Illinois – and they told me she had already left. But the clerk assured me there would be detours.
Great. Thirty minutes later, she called us again – she had found her phone under her car seat. She was in another town, another half hour away – several roads had closed due to flooding. But she was on her way. A friend of mine I work with was close to her, and I called her with the frantic mom call. She assured me if she got lost or had a problem, we could each meet her half way and find her.
Finally, she arrived. After an hour or so, we left to go home. The rain still poured. We wanted to get home before it got dark, and our son needed to get to work. Our son opted to ride with his sister, and I rode with Richard. As we prepped to leave, I gave the Worried Mother Mantra to her of highway safety tips in driving in rain.
Fifteen minutes after we left, the rain got worse. We were on a two-lane road trying to reach the highway, with no shoulder or place to get off the road. The road was elevated, with farmland on either side, except the farmland was no flooded.
Suddenly, we had almost no visibility. The wind picked up, and it was raining sideways. We could barely see the road, but there was no place to go but forward. I half-expected to see a cow fly across the road like in the movie Twister. I was afraid to call our son because I thought the ring might distract Elizabeth as she tried to follow us through the typhoon-like conditions. All I could do was pray. And watch the headlights of her behind us. If we went off the road, we would land in the flooded fields beside us.
There was a truck ahead of us that slowed, and we couldn’t tell why until we got there. It was dodging and driving over fallen tree limbs. We did the same. There was no place to go but forward, through the sideways rain and over the tree limbs. We drove over more tree limbs. Water poured sideways and pounded our car as we drove through the rain.
Finally, we got to the highway. And we drove over more tree limbs. As the rain got a little better, my husband said it was the worst storm he had driven through in his life. We crossed the bridge into Indiana and debated pulling off at the first place we could find. I was posting on Facebook about our conditions and talking with friends.
Traffic suddenly stopped as emergency vehicles blocked the road in front of us. We couldn’t tell what the problem was. A friend on my Facebook wall told us a house had just exploded. I called my son to tell them a house had exploded. We sat for 30 minutes with a blocked highway. A car in front of us turned around – we saw no reason to do the same because all there was behind us was a road covered in tree limbs. Our son called his boss and told him he might run late for work.
The road cleared, and we resumed our journey. The rain lightened up, and we opted to continue to get our son to work as soon as we could. He was only 5 minutes late. When we got home, we breathed a sigh of relief. It had taken us 2 hours of driving to make a 1-hour trip. We could see water pooling around us on roads, along the side of roads.
Then we started to go inside and realized our power was out. Our backup sump battery had exhausted itself, and our basement had begun to flood. I rushed to a neighbor’s house with a generator to ask if we could connect. Richard and Elizabeth raced to find flashlights to get our outdoor extension cords. We hurried to connect the cords and ran cords from our basement sump pump, through the rain, to our neighbor’s power source. As we stood in the rain, trying to get it connected, our neighbor moved his truck in the street to shine his headlights on us as we raced to save our basement. It was still pouring.
I had misunderstood my daughter and thought we had 6 inches of water in our whole basement. It turned out it only had an inch in a couple of rooms. Had we run 30 minutes later, it would have been a terrible mess.
The sump pump began to work again, and we scrambled in the dark to find candles to spend the evening at home in the dark. I went out to get fast food and hot coffee for our dinner. Elizabeth told us as she followed us in the rain, it felt like she was driving through the Dante’s Peak movie where things kept getting in their way. No matter what, they kept going, and so did we.
After 2 hours, our power came back on. We had no damage in our basement.
Neither Richard nor I could relax until our son got home from work. We hoped the roads wouldn’t be more flooded. He got home with no misadventures.
The next morning, I realized we had made it through the rain. We kept our world intact.
Granted, my coat I had worn outside the night before took 2 days to dry. But we got through everything. Over the river and through the typhoon we had gone, and we came out on the other side.
Sometimes, there is nothing we can do to lower the stress around us. I don’t live in a perfect Sim world where people fit in their assigned roles and everything goes according to a simple plan. My world is messy, with imperfect people, and crazy stories.
There was a whole lot of praying going on to get us through the rain. The misadventures my family gets through together often become the tie that binds us. There’s a life lesson there somewhere that when the going gets tough, you just keep on going.
Our adventures also help me appreciate the quiet times when things actually go right.