Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Very local reporting two-fer

We interrupt the usual 2-4-2sday routine to bring you this breaking information.

The following is from Deep Green my friend in Indiana. I told you he can flat write.

It's been raining here. Raining like I've never seen before in my life.

Parke and several surrounding counties are just short of declaring martial law. They may do it yet. They've already issued orders via all the local TV and radio stations for civilians to keep off the roads. During last night's news we learned the area hasn't lost anyone yet due to drowning, but everyone understands this is a miracle of nearly Biblical proportions.

They pulled some kind of obscure state law out of a hat and declared all country roads closed for traffic just before I left for work yesterday. (Saturday) This being Jackson township, I got in my car drove peaceably to work, only needing to skirt lakes that were growing out into the cow paths I drive. They suspended all normal programming and all TV stations went to minute-by-minute news. One or two of them had helicopters in the air during a respite in the monsoon-like rains and were radioing back the alarming news that several towns were about to become islands. A few already had.

The CBS affiliate in Terre Haute was asking for volunteers to report to fire stations to help fill sand bags. They're right on the Wabash River and it was hovering near flood stage even before the last rains. A newsman is credited for noticing horrible leaks and crumbling in one of the area levees. The sandbags were being rushed to another location. This problem was new. City officials, cops, and engineers took one look at it and began immediate forced evacuations of entire neighborhoods in the area.

Two hours after I got to work the word came that the levee had been breached. It simply collapsed. I don't know how many they got out. One guy with a radio said they were rescuing people off roofs now, and the television helicopters had been pressed into service as rescue aircraft.

The governor has signed an emergency declaration mobilizing the Indiana National Guard, but there are few of them who are not in Afghanistan or Iraq--along with our desperately-needed helicopters and military vehicles.

It's been raining for days. All the creeks were up and the earth saturated. Then in three waves, Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night, storms came through which dropped record amounts of rain. One area reported ten inches overnight Friday, and more was coming.

Amazingly, our power only flickered a few times. We've kept electricity, but the phones and DSL have been dead for about 24 hours now. I'm writing this offline at 4:00 PM Sunday. A radio report said that whatever public services you didn't have, you WOULDN'T have for days. The repair crews cannot take their equipment across the new rivers that were once highways.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are reported to be sending crews from several states to areas in Central Illinois and Central Indiana. They've opened up churches, schools, and public buildings as refugee shelters. I hope they can get the necessary food, medicines, and baby needs into these places.

Communications are spotty. Along with flood waters, many roads are blocked by trees and downed power lines. A couple of TV stations in Terre Haute have been off the air since yesterday afternoon. These storms were accompanied by spectacular lightning, the kind of which is fun to watch until you realize they're something beyond normal. Transmitters and electrical substations have simply been obliterated by many of the gargantuan bolts. One TV newswoman passed along the information that for some perverse reason, Indiana takes more lightning hits than almost any state except for Florida. And nobody knows why.

Tess and I are fine. No water is approaching our home. Remember, the deal was she bought the house, I bought the land. We passed over many fine homes that were too near creeks and rivers for my comfort. I think flood waters would sink Indianapolis before we even needed to begin thinking about a problem.

The deep cycle batteries are charged, the inverters standing by. We have food and a ridiculous amount of bottled water. Some communities have been warned not to to drink anything that comes out of their taps. A boil order is in effect for some areas, others have been told that even boiling the water will not make it safe to drink due to contamination from flooded gas stations and farm chemical depots.

Friday night we were all ordered into shelter areas at work. If you went outside you could hear the tornado sirens blowing in Greencastle, about a mile away. A lightning bolt hit somewhere near enough to throw the plant into darkness. Nobody freaked out, but it quit being funny then. Many of the die makers, mold technicians, and machine repairmen carry those little Mini-Maglights in holsters on their belts since they're so handy at work. Small lights flickered on everywhere. Then, while the storm was still raging and we were supposedly under orders to stay in the safe areas, the machine repair crews simply walked out of them and began checking for damage and trying to get the main breakers thrown back on again. A factory full of tapidly-cooling plastic injection machines is a nightmare none of us wanted to face. When the goop cools, it solidifies. Inside the machines. Not a good thing. We had the power back on in about ten or fifteen minutes, quickly enough to avoid overcooling. We got a pat on the head for that.

Yesterday, with the no-travel orders in effect, I was scheduled to work the first Saturday since I've been back from leave. I went anyway, and so did quite a few others, enough to run operations and keep things ticking along. The head honcho was so proud of us for being scofflaws that he ordered pizzas for the entire plant. Good pizza, too. I ate like a hog.

I don't know when I'll be able to send this. Tomorrow (Monday) the crews were supposed to be here at long last to wire the house for fiber optic cable. I doubt we'll see them for weeks now. It's not their fault.

My base CB radio is on and we occasionally get a static-filled report from someone who's out and about. None of the news is good. Farmers are trying to find places to herd their cattle so they won't be swept away. The farmers who've plowed, tilled, fertilized, and planted their fields know they wasted all that time, expensive fuel, and other great costs of putting out a crop. Many a field now is underwater, killing the little soybean and corn shoots that were inching above the ground. They'll have to do it all over again. If they can.

I'll send this whenever I can. In the meantime I've written a couple of outrageous replies to members of the conference offline that may never leave my computer. Then again, they might. Depends on my mood. And the weather.

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