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Sudden storms revive flood of memories

I experienced a little blast from the past on Friday, when I was caught in the first of several downpours to strike our area that day.

I was leaving an appointment in Bridgeport and tried to wait out the heavy shower, but I decided it was going to make me late for my next stop and went ahead and ran out into the deluge.

It was only a few yards to where I was parked, and I thought I made a pretty quick dash across the lot, but I was soaking wet from head to toe when sat down and closed my car door. Fortunately, I carry a small towel in my console, sporting the logo of my friend and local celebrity Travis “The Terrror” Clark. I was able to use it to dab some of the water from my hair and face and to dry my glasses off well enough so that I could see to drive.

I found that being so wet made me a bit cold, so I tried to make the best of things by turning the temperature up in my car as I used the climate control to defog the windows.

I figured the worst was over. Not so.

As I made my way toward intended stops in Martins Ferry and Wheeling, I couldn’t help but notice how high the water was getting on National Road. At one point, traffic stopped, and I realized the road ahead was completely flooded. I could see pickup trucks driving through water that completely covered their wheels and tires.

Since I have a rather small car, I decided that course of action was not for me. I turned into the Subway parking lot and made my way to higher ground to wait out the storm. I sat there for probably 20 minutes, waiting for the rain and the water on the road to subside. I used the time to make a couple of phone calls, doing the best I could to hear and be heard above the pounding rainfall.

When I saw that a Bridgeport police officer had made his way through the mess and was allowing traffic to proceed, I pulled back onto the roadway and headed east again.

I encountered another flooded area in front of St. Anthony of Padua Church, as well as several spots where water was high on the edges of the road, but I no longer felt that I could be in danger.

The rain continued throughout the afternoon and evening, pounding much of the region even after I had made my way home and late into the night.

The episode brought to mind the flooding we experienced locally in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in Spetember 2004, as well as other incidents of flooding that we all have lived through. In recalled the struggles people faced as their basements and main floors were flooded if they lived in low-lying areas. I remembered how people used canoes to navigate city streets and filled sandbags in an effort to keep water from entering homes and businesses.

I also remembered that people in our area, as well as in other parts of the country, lost their lives to Ivan and other storms.

I hope that all of you will remember that, too, and take steps to protect yourselves as the weather changes from summer to fall in the next few weeks.

When storms threaten, keep an eye on weather forecasts and have apporpriate supplies ready in case your power goes out. Make sure you have a battery-powered radio or weather radio handy so you can keep tabs on the situation.

Be prepared to take shelter in your basement or another sturdy structure if tornadoes threaten, as they did Friday around the Woodsfield area.

When the remnants of hurricanes are on the way, prepare to protect your belongings by moving them to upper floors if you live in a low-lying area.

And, if you must be out when storms are happening, remember not to drive through high water. Turn around, don’t drown.

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