For three straight days, unexpected torrential rains flooded the streets that surrounded our business. We stood by, helpless, as the water rose to unthinkable levels, and useless drainage systems fought, struggled, and finally, succumbed to the flowing water that enveloped our streets.
Dark clouds stubbornly held their ground above us, not once uttering thunder or shuddering a scrap of lightning. Instead, they unleashed a deluge the likes we haven’t seen in at least 10 years. The rain water quickly gathered and carried everything in its path. Cars, trucks, and bits heavy medal floated past our front door as easily as a leaf might be carried in a stream.
By the end of the first day, B had sent our staff home and had lifted all of our inventory, computer equipment and displays off our floors. But it was no use. By the next morning, a section of our showroom was submerged close to 4 feet. The losses, difficult to bear during these times.
Sometimes moments of lightness or goodness can be unearthed during tough times. On the second day of the storm we stood on our front step watching abandoned cars saddle up, driverless, one after another, on our street. Suddenly an elderly man, seemingly oblivious to the condition of our roads, turned into our street, despite our repeated signals to back away. His car suddenly lifted and turned on its side, quickly filling with water. Right before our eyes, the man was trapped inside his car. B, along with two witnesses, rushed to the man’s aid. B pulled him from his car, and towed him to safety. He later called and stated his car was complete loss.
Several local print and broadcast media contacted B during those rainy days. He spoke of the plight of local businesses affected by the flooded streets and the poor drainage systems in our city. He spoke gracefully and articulately of our situation. I couldn’t have been any prouder except I was extremely amused by the fact that during those 3 rainy days, several local news reports contained soundbites from my husband. It was truly an unintentional media whirlwind.
On the morning of the 4th day we reopened our doors. The water had receded and in its wake, left debris, mud and a stench several gallons of detergent disinfectant could barely conceal. The humidity clung to our skin, but, after several hours of cleaning, we became inured to it. We scrubbed and hosed the walls and floors, dumped ruined displays and quietly worked side-by-side. On occasion, we even escorted disoriented frogs out our doors.
I kept thinking of a conversation I’d had with a friend a few days before the deluge regarding the symbolism of the basic elements: water, fire, air, and earth. Water, I thought as I cleaned, is a cleansing of sorts. It sustains us. This flood forced us to clean so much it felt like we were starting over. And though we were tired and our hands calloused from the work, we were energized.
An atonement. A cleansing. A renewal. A fresh, clean start.