It is Sunday and the water is high. The people don’t have much to do but wait for it to subside. When it finally peels back we will all gather to peer at the chaos that lies beneath. It is a helpless feeling. The River People feverishly scoured the changing forecasts that once said everything would be okay and then took it back again, like a fickle six year old child with his favorite toy. That is not intended as a criticism, it is just the Nature of these things. Unpredictable.
Not much can be done now but play a game of wait and see where the crest really falls. All indications tell us this flood will be worse than December 2015. The power of the water is awesome in the traditional sense of the word. I recall watching footage of the Boxing Day tsunami back in 2004. My brain was not evolved enough to encompass the visuals that piped in across the airwaves to my safe Oklahoma home. Water can do this?! Water does this.
We know that all the other elements yield to water. Earth and fire stand no chance. Air meets the water and the best it can hope for is turbulence. That doesn’t register with us on a daily basis, now does it? We let our babies splash around in the water. Then again we won’t leave them alone in it, so maybe we know the truth deep down. I wonder where do catfish go in a great flood? I’ve heard tell of flatheads (White Catfish to you laymen) the size of Volkswagen Beetles just lying down below the Tenkiller Dam. Is this how it happens? These so called ‘80 Year Floods’ wash them down? Do they miss their families? I saw a couple of geese and a beaver in the river today. They didn’t seem concerned at all.
I hear peeps and crows yapping after events like this, particularly after Katrina, saying well why don’t these people just move? Why don’t they just get outta there? The obvious answer is, “where would you have us go?” and unless you happen to be The Great Orchestrator, what business is it of yours? Every man must eke out his own difficult way. You’re best to tend to your own.
I’ve been witness to the emotional devastation of a person who lived through a flood. Even absent personal loss of life and injury, there are details such as missing beloved pets and the chaos of seeing everything you once knew become as you don’t know it. Your sanctity, your safe place, your home, is gone. I witnessed a man handling every single mud-covered piece of his belongings, mumbling about how each one might be saved, while a room full of volunteers patiently looked on, knowing full well that nothing could be saved at all. Sometimes the answer to a question holds so much pain and finality that it must be turned over again and again in the mind before a man is able to finally acknowledge the thing he already knew deep down inside.
We have become terribly accustomed to these ‘80 Year Floods’ out here in Northeastern Oklahoma. Tomorrow we will go out to see the aftermath of the second ‘Eighty Year Flood’ in two years. Think about that. Sure, we flood out here every Spring, but not like this. Not with hardly a year to recover in between.
Our neighbors and friends will be overwhelmed but do not let them feel alone. We’ve done it before and we will do it again. Go to the Facebook Group 2017 Illinois River Recovery if you wish to help. Love and only love.