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Flood warning blew us all away

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2015-07-03


I’ve been having problems with insomnia, and I’ve noticed that when the barometric pressure moves—either up or down—it’s harder for me to sleep. So Friday night, hours before a hurricane-like force swept through Fort Wayne, I was up late. I finally dropped off to sleep after 5 a.m. or so, only to wake up a few short hours later, listening to a roaring wind that didn’t die down.

A few weeks before, I’d encountered a similar phenomenon. I was showering during a thunderstorm, and the thunder was constant—usually there’s a lightning flash, there’s thunder, it dies away. Lightning, thunder, done. Not this. It was constant—this rumbling. I thought there were jets trying to land at the airport, but couldn’t, so maybe they were in a holding pattern over my house until they could touch down. Nope. Just a weird, constant rumbling, like I was in some sort of action movie before the aliens landed.

But Saturday’s wind was bizarro. My bedroom curtain was billowing madly. I glanced out the window on an overcast landscape, with a constant gale from the northeast, then the southwest, then the north, then northeast again. WTF? I was still tired and didn’t have to get up for another couple hours, so I went back to bed. When I woke up again, I checked my phone. Flood warning, that’s all.

And when I got done with my appointment and came back through town, my jaw just about hit the floor. Flood warning? Sure, Swinney Park was flooded, but it looked like someone who hated trees decided to stomp through West Central. And Waynedale. And the rest of Fort Wayne. I returned my movie to the library and set out to play photojournalist.

As someone who has a bit of the schadenfreude going on, I’m amazed that with all our technology, all that came up on my smartphone was “flood warning.” Not, “run for your life, it’s a hurricane,” but a flood warning, which means nothing to me since I live on a hill and don’t have a basement. We bitch about the weather, but it’s obvious that WE are weather’s bitch.

But despite the cool temperature and rain, there I was, sloshing through West Central, climbing fences, walking closed streets, talking to residents. A couple young men I chatted with pointed out their bedroom windows, mere feet from a tree that came to rest on the roof above. A few feet down the street, someone’s blue Mercury, squished. Just squished. A Prius got it too, but not as bad.

I talked to one of the tree removal guys, who said all the destruction happened in about 20 minutes’ time. The last time I remember this kind of destruction, it happened at night and I lost power. It’s really sort of frightening though; all this stuff happening when I wasn’t conscious. I fully expect if the tornado of the century comes through, it’s going to be during the few hours when I’m actually sleeping, and the only thing it will say on my smartphone is “severe thunderstorm watch.” “Watch,” not “warning.”

But it was fun, taking pictures and talking to people. I felt like a photojournalist, not a grad student working three part time jobs and scraping by. For once, something exciting had happened, and I wasn’t at work. I had nothing planned after my appointment, and I didn’t have to work until later on that day. I had plenty of housework I could have done, but disaster had hit the city and I had to document it.

I wasn’t getting paid for it. I could have gone back to bed, because I was certainly tired enough to. But I didn’t. I shot probably four dozen pictures, came home, and uploaded some them on my blog. It’s times like these that I think in my heart, I still like checking out what’s going on and documenting it. You can take the girl out of journalism, but you can’t take journalism out of the girl.

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