I’ve driven in a few really bad rain storms in my life, the first being when I was 16 and had just got my license. I was on vacation with my family to Louisiana and we were on our way home. Dad had been good about letting me drive on the interstate, giving me practice merging onto the interstate with other traffic and then getting off. We were in El Paso and as we approached I asked Dad if he wanted to drive through the city. He declined and I got real nervous: my first time driving through a big city on an interstate. As it turned out they had a little, very sudden, summer storm and by the time we passed through it my parents were both white-faced and white knuckled. But we survived.
Fast forward a few years and I was going to college in Louisiana. My Aunt Sarah was coming for a visit but she was flying into New Orleans, which meant that someone had to go and pick her up and, naturally, I volunteered. The fastest way to get from New Orleans to Monroe, Louisiana is actually through Mississippi – take I-55 north to Jackson and then take I-20 west to Monroe. Well, we were about 2 hours south of Jackson when the rain started. It was blowing so hard that going 35 miles per hour was almost too fast. We decided to try to drive on through, not knowing how long it would take. Normally it takes about 2.5 hours to get from Monroe to Jackson, which meant that we were about 4.5 hours away. It ended up taking us more than 8 hours to make that 4.5 hour drive. When we got up the next morning we discovered how bad the storm really was: extensive flooding in the ArkLaMiss area. Roads were closed – bridges were closed – even some of the streets and houses on my Grandparent’s block were flooded (their house was fine). It was bad, really, really bad.
But the storm that I drove through 2 nights ago was the worst. In part because I wasn’t expecting it and in part because it just simply freaked me out. I was at a meeting in Mundelein and left a few minutes before 9 PM. Normally it would take me about 30 minutes to get home. On my way, not realizing what was about to hit, I came upon a power pole that had caught on fire. My first thought was “should I drive past this or turn around and go a different path?” and then my second thought was “who do I call to report this?”. I decided to drive past and almost as soon as I had passed the pole it made a huge “BOOM” sound and then the thing sparked and lit up the road. It totally f.r.e.a.k.e.d. me out. It did this booming/sparking thing a couple of more times, freaking me out a little more. So I pulled over and called 9-1-1 for the first time ever in my life. I don’t even know if it was the right place to call, but it was the only place I could think of to call. The person answering the phone was polite and said they would send someone out to investigate.
But then something else happened. I got to thinking about how nobody knew where I was and what if a funnel thing dropped from the sky and sucked me up into it and what if it was days and days and days before anyone found me and then it was even more days until the could identify me? What about that? I think that thought freaked me out even more than the transponder blowing up. So then I got to thinking who could I call? Mom and Dad were asleep and even if they were awake they had no idea where I was and really, what could they tell the police and all my friends were probably scared in their houses and didn’t have time to think about where I was and so I needed friends who were out west of me and were still awake and then I thought of Stewart and Terry. Yes. Stewart and Terry = safety to me. They are my surrogate parents and, really, when I can’t call my parents I call them. Thankfully Stu was home and stayed on the line with me until I got home. Whew! I don’t ever want to live through a storm like that one. Blown up transponders, downed power lines, fallen trees all over the place.
If you really don’t believe me about the magnitude of the storm, here is evidence #1:
This was a massive tree in the middle of Middle Campus. Look at it. That takes power. Plus the fact that the Library has been out of power for 2 days now (as well as half of Lake Forest, but we don’t really care about them).