Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Behold, Waters Rise up out of the North*

Eastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York, New Jersey, and Maryland are drowning under the weight of a storm that has dumped up to 13 inches of rain in the past four days. Despite a lull in the nearly week-long heavy rains, the Delaware, Schuylkill, and Susquehanna Rivers - and other rivers and streams already near or over their banks - were still rising and expected to crest between late tonight and Friday. The Delaware and the Schuylkill are the two rivers that meet in Philadelphia; the Delaware forms PA’s eastern border with New York and New Jersey, which are also hard hit.

These are all places I have lived; when I read about flooded neighborhoods, I know the people who live there, and I have driven the roads that are washed away. The hospital where I was born (and two of my sisters, and where my mother did her nurse’s training) is under water.

The Susquehanna River is flooding almost from the source to where it meets the sea. It rises at Cooperstown, meanders through New York, and dips into PA in Susquehanna County, where nearly the entire community of Hallstead is under water, including buildings and vehicles. My high school cafeteria is full of evacuees. There are a dozen places where floods have cut off country roads. In many places, it’s worse than the terrible Agnes flood in 1972.

In Honesdale, home of Highlights for Children, a small creek flooded, forming a lake ... downtown.

My God—200,000 evacuated from Wilkes-Barre, helicopters doing roof rescues in Bloomsburg and New Milford, water cascading over the floodwalls in Binghamton, evacuations in Vestal.Elsewhere in the Binghamton area, an entire house floated down the Susquehanna.

Residents of Tunkhannock, Wyoming County are stuck. There is no way in and no way out. The Tunkhannock Creek is at one of its highest levels in years. That creek’s source is in Jackson; it wanders along Rte. 92, often well below the road, sometimes right beside it. It rose high enough that the interstate was closed from there to the New York state border—more than 20 miles of freeway.

There are bridges out in a dozen places, mudslides on 81, a breached dam in Nanticoke, major roads—routes 6, 11, 29, 81—closed for flooding, minor roads inundated and undermined. Even Main Street in Forest City was flooded. The creek there is just not that big—usually.

The little creek where I learned to swim is up over Zaner’s Bridge, and there are floods along 487 from Bloomsburg to Benton. Dozens of other small roads are flooded, too.

Nearly 11 inches of rain has fallen in Sussex County, NJ, where I lived in the early years of my marriage. I’ll bet the Pequannock is well over its banks and flooding my former street; shore access for the Delaware from Milford, PA, to Delaware Water Gap is closed, since the river is ten feet over flood stage.

As far as I know. all my friends and family are safe, if somewhat soggy. But I still feel weirdly helpless. This is my countryside, and I'm not there to take care of it. Pure magical thinking, of course. But I miss my place.

*Jeremiah 47: 2

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Didn’t Schadenfreude Play for the Phillies? Yeah, He Was a Southpaw Knuckleballer

The Mets are at the top of the National League East, with the Phils in second place. (Nine and a half games back, but still.) And the Atlanta Braves are at the bottom of the division with a .435 winning percentage.

I gloat.