Sunday, January 01, 2006

Washed Out

We've been washed out of our home in Marin since yesterday morning at 5 AM. We live across the street from the Corte Madera Creek (although the caption on the IJ photo says the San Anselmo creek--the creek changes names right at the bridge that is pictured) which hasn't flooded since the 80s but we were always aware it was a possibility. However, we had little to no warning of what was to come yesterday morning.

Having gone outside at 4:45 to check something in the car, I happened to see 10 inches of water in the driveway and 18 inch water rushing by in the street. My husband asked a passing firetruck what to do. "If you have kids and want to get out, go NOW." We took 15 minutes to pack up insulins, any clothing we could find, vital pices of identification and miscellany into large trash bags and headed back into the driveway with the kids. By that time the water was to our knees, to the kids' waists. We opened the car door and water rushed in, then we began to drive on the middle of the road, which had become a rushing river. Cars floated by us but somehow we stayed the course, though the car took on a foot and a half of water and there were moments I thought we would have to abandon the car and swim. We finally got out though. If we had left even five minutes later we would have haad to leave the car and be rescued.

We arrived at a hotel bedraggled and wet, but grateful to be somewhere warm and dry, where we had all of our son's insulin, and a hot complimentary hotel breakfast.

We went back to the homesite yesterday. Although we didn't take on water into the house (both our neighbor's did!) we have several feet of water in our basements and storage areas, the backyard is a lake, and the frontyard is a muddy wasteland filled with other people's debris and trash. Both cars are wrecked, although at least we have the other car to drive. (The hotel people let me shopvac out the water we'd taken on from the creek and I had to empty the thing 3 times). The kids' new Christmas toys that were in the basement toy area have been wrecked. In addition to many things we've stored there (we can't even open one of the storage areas as the items were shifted so much by the flood). But we are alive.

It was a strange confluence of heavy rains and extraordinarily high tides. We received no warning other than the "in 15 minutes your street is going to be a full blown river." When we returned and spoke with the neighbor (who'd been forced to ride it out on her second floor) she informed us that the waves had crested 11 feet up into her pine tree.

Authorities had to evacuate the woman two doors down from us, along with her two sons, via boat, since she has special medical needs and can't be without medical access. Local businesses are devastated. Fences have come down, cars have floated down the street and crashed into other cars, a hundred year old oak crashed down in the local schoolyard, crushing the backstop to the ball field--I can't even describe it.

There are some photos here of the devastation. I could not make them paste into this entry as they're copyrighted. Here they are though. The river that swolled over its banks is the bottom picture. This is before it overflowed and turned our neighborhood into a river. Article

And if you go here and click SWIFT WATER RESCUE you can see a video shot nearby where we live; another flooded street-turned river but similar situation.

It remains to be seen how much insurance will pay and how long cleanup will take. We're out of our home at least through tonight and part of tomorrow. The furnace and water heater are flooded so it may not be safe to return.