When Water Attacks


About ten years ago, on one of those long trips I used to take all the way from Texas to drive my kids out to stay at the old farmhouse so I could show them our family history–long before it ever crossed my mind that I might live here someday–we got off the interstate and drove the long, winding two-lane highway to our little tiny town and beyond, to the farmhouse. All along the way, there was evidence of a recent flood. Vehicles, even trailer homes, tossed in the overflowing creek that the road follows. I wasn’t much accustomed to the idea of water being dangerous, not in my safe, controlled suburban world, but throughout my childhood whenever the subject of real estate came up, I remember my father–who grew up on the banks of these West Virginia rivers and creeks, always saying quite emphatically, ‘Take the high ground.”

Despite the increased cost and logistical difficulty of building a house halfway up a hill in the boonies, there are days like yesterday when I am glad we took the high ground. I am, in fact, developing a water phobia. I have good cause, after the incident in which I drowned my car last winter after making a particularly idiotic country neophyte decision to ford the river on the wrong day. I have a hard time judging the river. It hadn’t even been raining that day, so I thought the river crossing would be fine. I was wrong. Now, it has to have not rained for several days before I’ll ford the river, and even then, I’ve taken to watching the natives.

Before the leaves came out so thick on the trees, I could easily see down our hill to the road below. If someone else who lives on our road–you know, the real country people–head for the river ford, then I know it’s okay. With the leaves out, it’s a little harder to see, but I can still glimpse a spot of road from our front porch. If the real country people drive across the river ford, then I do. If they don’t, I don’t. See the spot of road I can see down the hill through our trees? That’s the spot of road I watch. It’s the country traffic report. We don’t have news helicopters here. We just have neighbors. Who are smarter than me.

Yesterday, school was called off in our little tiny town due to a power outage. They still had school in Spencer at the county high school. I told 17 not to drive across the river ford because it had stormed overnight. Heading across the river ford is much closer than driving all the way down our rocky road to the little town then heading back up the two-lane highway to Spencer. He said, okay, then as I watched him head down the driveway, in the speck of road I can see from the porch, I watched him head in the wrong direction–toward the river ford. I sat there, helpless, listening to the sound of his car crunching down the road, waited to see what would happen. And was so relieved when what happened was in that speck of road I can glimpse from my porch I saw that he had turned around and was heading back in the other direction. He might have disobeyed my directions, but at least he had enough sense when he got to the ford to turn around after he looked at it.

Meanwhile back at our new farmhouse, it stormed all day and our power went off. Princess, bored with her day, begged to go to Georgia’s house–where her power was on and there was TV to be had. We have to ford three creeks as we drive the couple of miles over the hill and down our rocky road to Georgia’s. I was a little uncertain, not having experienced these creeks much yet when the water’s up, but I was relieved to see one of the “natives” on the road, so I felt better. Georgia was, of course, delighted to have the company. Georgia loves company, and she particularly loves the Princess. I headed back home, and when it was time to pick her up, remembered that 17 and 15 would have to come that way, the long way, so I arranged for 17 to bring the Princess back with him. By the time they got back, here’s how things were looking even here up on our high ground.

This is the bridge that crosses our driveway. From this direction, you can see the concrete that reinforces this side of our bridge (the side that takes the brunt of rushing water). The creek is nearly overflowing the banks.

This is looking out at the creek from the other side of our bridge. The creek goes out to the road where there is another bridge across the road. This direction on the road is the access to the river ford. You can see here where this bridge has failed and the water washed out the road yesterday.

This is a road, not a creek……..

I was so relieved by now that my children were already home. Our electricity came on for awhile then went back off.

Later, I went down the driveway again and here is how our creek looked.

The sound of this rushing water is so loud.

The washed out road as it looked later. No one will be driving down to the river ford again for awhile. Not until the state road people fix this.

I walked down to the river. It was frightening to see how high it was.

Believe it or not, this is the river ford, a spot where people cross the river in their cars every day. Not right now….. Water is scary.

You can see a picture here of how the river ford usually looks (on a good day, when you could drive across it). Note that the river looked nowhere close to what it was yesterday the day I killed my car in it–even I wouldn’t drive into that. I was scared just standing next to it.

Take the high ground!!


  1. Carolyn says:

    Having come from the Blue Ridge Mountains myself, I’ve never experienced a river ford crossing. But we did have to watch out for washed out topsoil and mudslides. My sister, being in WV though, has to watch her river all the time since it’s right down the road from the trailer park. Now living in the City, the only big water I’ve seen was when Isabel came through and flooded the Inner Harbor here in Baltimore. Take care of you and yours. xxoo

  2. Meghan Rosenstengel says:

    It is funny to me that you “ford” on a regular basis. Here, the rule is, if you can’t see the road, don’t drive through. I guess we’re just a bunch of sissies!

  3. Kathryn says:

    We had a low water ford when we lived in Tennessee. If we had a heavy dew, it was no longer a low water ford. It scared me to death.

    I hope the county can get to the road quickly. What a mess for you all. Be safe!

  4. angiecmt says:

    Wow! Be very careful πŸ™‚

  5. Cheryl S. says:

    WOW! That would be make me real nervous . . . be careful!

  6. Becky says:

    I remember those days!
    Funny, I miss them. I remember days I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t get out in either direction. I got to play hookie, legally!

  7. Cara says:

    We could really use some significant rain here in central Florida, if you want to send a little of it our way. (Not all, though, or I’d suddenly find myself living in the ocean instead of the middle of the state.)

  8. Kim A. says:


    How about a canoe? LOL!!!


  9. Blaze says:


    Well least your house is on the high ground so you don’t have to worry about water in that regard.
    Nothing is worse then a flooded house..ugh trust me on that one.

  10. Kelly says:

    A smart woman you are for following your father’s advice and a smart son you have for following yours (although he may have been reluctant at first)! We have been hammered with the rain and storms here in Ohio the past few days with flood warning flashing across the T.V. screen, but I haven’t seen anything like you are dealing with here. Stay safe Suzanne!

  11. Tina L says:

    We have been getting lots of rain too but our flooding is in the basement. I hope you ended relaxing a little yesterday.

  12. Annie says:

    I’m glad you all are home safe and sound. Isn’t it amazing how something which is so vital to our health can also kill you in an instant?

  13. Kacey says:

    we used to have flooding like that down by our grade school. In the middle of the suburbs. The county finally came in and put in a spillway to divert the water to keep the area from flooding. Now it hasn’t it quite awhile. Knock on wood.

    This spring has been terrible here. Lots of flooding going on. Even flooded out one of the main interstates here. When will it stop?

    But at least I have electricity. Knock on wood, again. :mrgreen:

  14. Minna says:

    Oh, my. And here we could use some of that water.

  15. Sharon Elkins says:

    I don’t think I’d be going anywhere for a long time. I’m chicken about rushing water.

  16. heidiannie says:

    Wise women get that way from listening to other wise people- Your children are blessed because you have listened to you father and now look to experienced neighbors to safeguard your decisions. And all it took was killing your car!
    Enjoy your day with Princess- is she a reader? Maybe she will become a writer, too and you can compare experiences! Fourteen is a good age to start writing. Espcially when there is no TV.

  17. Judy says:

    Wow that is just amazing, and I thought our river flooded us out. Keep safe!

  18. Crystal B. says:

    Wow! I understand why you are getting a water phobia.

  19. Wammy says:

    That water can be so mean! Take care and stay out of trouble…smart kids you have there.

  20. Ann from Montana says:

    Yikes – hope things dry out soon!

    Hey, how is the chicken coop fairing?

  21. Becky says:

    Ugh… I got caught in that storm and was thinking of you as I drove home on 119, dodging downed trees and water hazards! I’m glad you folks are OK!


  22. Marissa Ann says:

    Yikes! Stay home!

  23. Claudia W says:

    Wow! That looks like no fun to me at all. We need water right now. We are having a little shortage of rain. How great it would be though to have to stay inside and safe and catch up on that relaxation!

  24. Jyl says:

    Wow, that is something. And the pictures are a great visual.

  25. Jen (aaron-n-jen.com) says:

    We’ve been having a lot of flash flooding, but when I was in Colorado they were talking about how it was in a drought! It’s amazing how diverse our country is in climate, weather, and culture.

  26. Katharina says:

    We have been is that storm system as well. Just had a big t-storm blow through here a few minutes ago. I don’t have to drive through flooded roads today thankfully. It makes me anxious when I do, but I find rain comforting when compared to drought. Droughts scare me something awful…our well has been dry on several occasions during hot dry spells. Floods are nothing to laugh at though. Glad you son listened to you…I prefer to believe that he just forgot when he turned the wrong way initially. Surely he wouldn’t think he knows better than Mom!

  27. JDR says:

    I know this is bad for you, but I sure wish we could get some of that rain here.:yes: We’re in a seven year drought and huge oak trees are starting to die. I envy your rain. πŸ˜†

  28. Donna says:

    Water like that scares me too…being as we have flash floods and a friend of mine lost her little twin grandson, in a Texas flash flood, who was almost 3. Her daughter went to go through some shallow water (she thought) and a passerby tried to help her. She handed one baby to the passerby, but when she handed the second one, she thought the person had it, but the grip slipped and the baby was lost down the fast current. It was AWFUL, as you can imagine. That was mid ’90’s.
    We recently had big flash floods…nothing to play around with, for sure. I would be so scared too. I’m glad you are all safe!

  29. Jodie says:

    Sounds like you’re using sound judgement – watch the experienced country drivers. The river looks like a major river now. That’s why I can never understand why people build in a flood plain.

  30. Susan says:

    The universe has definately spoken to you!! (from yesterday) Use this down time to catch up!!Life is good. πŸ™‚

  31. wkf says:

    WOW!!!!! we need some of that so bad down here! green is gone and everythings turned brown and dusty. Oh well feast or famine for some! :flying:

  32. Granny Sue says:

    I wondered how you were faring. Our creeks were way up, out in the road, and running hard. I had a little antique bottle on the porch–it has about a 1/2″ opening in the top, and it was nearly full of water–about 6″ in it, all in one day, and you know that wasn’t an “official” rain gauge–the official ones are 1″, I believe.

    We drove through some washed-out road and running water to get home, but after 35 years up here, I’ve learned when I can and can’t cross it. I was hoping to be flooded in this morning, but no such luck. At least our power stayed on–poor Princess! Kids get stir-crazy fast, don’t they?

  33. Karen B says:

    :drowning: Scary stuff – stay on the high road!!!

  34. Jennifer Robin says:

    Wow, We get a lot of rain here too, and some washouts in the winter, but nothing like that! Now, whose (blue) oil bottle is that in the picture of your creek πŸ˜₯ ? Do you have a problem with people just dumping their trash there too?

  35. Amy Addison says:

    Holy Tamoly! That’s a lot of water. I remember when we moved from SoCal to Houston, right after Hurricaine Alicia had torn through. I’d lived with minor earthquakes my whole young life, so I wasn’t prepared for what a “little rain and wind” could do to large communities. Totally new respect for Nature’s Power.

    Yes, take the high road. Always.

    Is this normal for that area at this time of year? Where the heck is summer?

  36. Egghead says:

    Wow! We have had a couple of floods around here, the last bad one in 1996 where people had to be rescued by helicopter from their roofs near the river. But thankfully it isn’t every year. The most interesting thing to me back then was to see the cows and horses take the high ground and just stand about munching on grass. :chicken:

  37. Maureen says:

    We live in the suburbs but near the river so you do have to be careful but your pictures were scary.

  38. Cynthia says:

    Yikes! That water is scary! I’m glad that you all are safe on high ground. And hope your power is restored soon, too!

  39. Jean says:

    Hope you have great drainage around the back and sides of your house. I once had a house on a hillside and didn’t put sufficient drainage around it. Hope yours is better. Stay safe.

  40. Shari says:

    We’re so parched here in south Texas that we’re ready to trade our souls for some rain. *sigh* I know the flooding isn’t doing any favors for y’all right now, but still, I’m jealous. You’d think, with all our high tech-ness, that somebody could figure out how to route the overflow away from flooded areas and send it to sections of the country in desperate need.

    How’s the cow-stalking coming? 😎

  41. catslady says:

    It’s so scary. I wouldn’t even buy a house that had water too close. Maybe because I don’t know how to tread water lol. We live on a hill but there is a small creek at the bottom of our street. A few homes have gotten flooded and what a mess. Glad you’re on the high ground πŸ™‚

  42. Tori Lennox says:

    I’m glad you guys are on the high ground. Water can be VERY scary. People are still cleaning up after the crazy flooding we had here a few month ago.

  43. Kim in WI says:

    Last August we had 17″ of rain in just 20 hours here in SW Wisconsin. It was terrible. I think seven people died.

    Ever since then, I’ve been hyperaware of the forecast and I really listen to the words “heavy rain possible” with a different attitude.

    Glad you and yours are safe and sound.

  44. pticester says:

    Growing up next to a river, I’ve seen the water out of banks many times, but it still scares me.

    Be safe.

  45. Brandy says:

    Wow! That looks scary. Stay safe and be careful!

  46. Susan says:

    Yikes! I won’t complain about our water problems anymore. Take good care of yourself and be extra careful. :hug:

  47. Kathleen in MI says:

    My sister and her husband once rented a cabin for a week in an area they were unfamiliar with. They wondered why all the locals drove trucks with BIG wheels until the night it rained. When they tried to drive into town the next morning they found that the little creek they drove across had turned into a raging torrent without a bridge. They were stranded at that cabin for days.

  48. Estella says:

    Water has always scared me, and I seldom have to drive in it.


    Hey can we go water rafting :shimmy:

  50. TeresaH says:

    That’s a great idea—doing what the natives do! Water can be deceiving in appearances, and be much worse than it looks. We are getting a lot of rain here too, but it doesn’t look as pretty here as it does there with all the trees!

  51. Carla says:

    I’m from southwest Virginia and now live in northwest Florida. I love reading your stories and seeing your photos, it takes me home. We always went thru three creeks to get to my Grandma and Granddaddy’s house when growing up and the other choice was to walk a foot path around a hill. And we also had a river you could ford. Flooded waters are very dnagerous. We’ve even seen the creek come out when there was no rain in sight because it rained somewhere up the mountains. Love your stories. Thanks so much!

  52. Shimmy Mom says:

    That is crazy. I agree water is scary!

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