Major interstate highways flooded for miles, trapping unsuspecting travelers where they stopped in bumper to bumper traffic. State highways fared worse; to close an effected area meant an hour’s added detour around the flooding. Roads closed yesterday afternoon remained closed today. The water just isn’t receding.
Those hardest hit by the same storm that blanketed the east in snow were those living in low-lying areas. What was considered safe before Hurricane Katrina was subsequently reevaluated by FEMA to fall two feet below a safe flood margin.
In one particular sub-division in a sleepy community of Arkansas, 30 homes remain flooded today under at least a foot of water. Last night, well into the wee hours of the morning, rescues continued until everyone was again safely standing on solid ground. Public servants became heroes yet again.
Thankfully – and surprisingly – no one was injured in all of this mess, that I know of. The local woman who snapped the highway flood photo with her cell phone said she saw only a Camaro and a van in the ditch. Fire departments were on hand, boating up and down to offer assistance if needed.
About mid-morning today, the weather shifted. Instead of rain came gale force winds and freezing temperatures. Still, many ventured out to assess the flood damage, reaching out to those who lost everything. Others picked their routes around affected areas to reach holiday celebrations with family and friends. Though the temperatures remained below freezing and the winds high, the sun did its magic and kept the ice at bay.
But, the story isn’t over. Those harshly hit by the Christmas Storm of 2009 will continue to deal with its aftermath for weeks and months to come. Today, Christmas Day, they chose to spend with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. Tomorrow, they will begin their struggle to rebuild their lives.