Moving to higher ground

This past weekend, it rained 10 inches overnight in my hometown of Franklin, Indiana. "I haven't used the word torrential in all of my life," my seventy-seven year old father said over the phone. It hit the highest mark since 1931. "We had the meanest looking clouds you have ever seen," my sister, Pam, claimed.

My nephew Travis is Assistant Service Manager at our family  car dealership. He called Dad because water was now standing in the shop. My parents couldn't get up there from their house downtown because the roads were closed, so they had to stay at home and wait out the downpour. Travis called Pam, his mom and the General Manager, who was out of town but driving back to Franklin. She and her husband, Norman, barely made it back to town before the Interstate was closed. My sister, Denise, and my brother, Rick, also work at the dealership. Denise couldn't get from her house in Morgantown because roads, as Pam describes them, were "warshed" out.

Travis said the water was up to the bumpers in the front row of the lot. Employees hustled moving cars to higher ground.  

The largest park in town, Province Park, is a small valley downtown Franklin with a creek running through it and, as the town watershed, filled up to the back door of all the houses that surround the park. (BTW, this park is across the street from my parent's house.) Bridges washed out or were blocked, roads washed out and the cemetery filled with water. People couldn't get in or out of town.

When the rain subsided, my parents made it up to the shop. Six to eight inches of muddy water stood throughout the building. Everyone came together for the clean up. My brother, Rick, his wife, Julia, Dale Williams, the Service Manager, my sister, Pam, her husband, Norman, their son, Travis, my nephew (Denise's son), Nick, Paul (Norman's brother), clerks, mechanics, salesmen, their wives and their friends. Kids were everywhere. My father could not get over how everyone helped. Some of the people were strangers to my father. 

Armed with mops, buckets, squeegees, hoses, carpet cleaners, and vacuums, they pumped and hauled the water and mud away. Then they rinsed with bleach water and vacuumed more. Travis told me that it mostly took a lot of elbow grease.

Dad bought lunch for the emergency clean-up crew. When Dale picked up the fifty roast beef sandwiches, people still waiting in the fast food line were irritated because the roast beefs were sold out and they were being offered substitute selections. Dale recognized some of them were dealership customers, so he offered them a few of the crew's roast beefs. They declined with jokes that I'm sure will run for years to come.

Pam said that when moving cars, Dad backed into a sold vehicle and damaged it. "He was hotter than a fire-cracker. But, it was comical." She went on to tell me, "Dad didn't want to wear everyone out and everyone else was worried about him."  He sent people home at 5 o'clock and also went home. After he and Mom left, Pam, Norm, Rick, Dale, Travis and Paul re-parked all of the cars in line so they would be ready for business in the morning. 

I told Pam that it sounded like in spite of the crisis that everyone rallied and worked well together. For a family of bossy sibs (myself included) I thought this might have been a test, but in the end they worked it out. Literally. "Yeah, we did, we had a good time. A really good time," she reported.

"We are a lot luckier than some," Rick told me. Some people in cars were swept away and drowned before rescue workers had reached them. Local kids who had seen all of the water as an opportunity to swim, had nearly drowned in drainage ditches, saved by hanging onto felled tree branches until help arrived.

A car dealership in Martinsville was in the news as a huge loss. Dad had observed that no one had saved the vehicles at the local police station, now under six feet of water, "and they have a hundred employees, at least."

On Monday morning, they were all back together at the dealership, with the doors open and fine-tuning now that the mud was out. The temperature was in the high 80s but the humidity was the real killer. The nearly invincible terrazzo show room floors were dusty but workable. Drywall was damaged but minimal. "Just fried computers and stuff like that," Pam said. The monetary loss was small, which was good since the insurance wouldn't be covering a flood. Travis hurried off the phone because the Service Desk was so busy.

"Hell, we got it made," Dad choked, touched by the experience. He was at the grocery store picking up lunches for everyone. "I always knew we had a great crew. Once again, they proved it." 

Uncomfortable with all of the emotion, he changed the subject. "Your Mom is almost over her cold. You know, she buys a cold every year."

"You mean she gets a flu shot?" I tried correcting him.

"Yeah. She buys a $70 shot and gets a cold every year. Hell, at least I don't pay nothing for mine."  He paused waiting for me to laugh.  

Two more inches are expected in Franklin tonight. 

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