Friday, January 10, 2014


Last night I flew to West Palm Beach to visit my dad for a couple of days.  I left after work and with the connecting flight would be in the airport at about 11 and at his home by midnight.  In addition to the nourishment of the visit, an advantage would be to escape the tundra of the north for some Florida warmth.

As soon as we landed my cell phone beeped informing me (how--who knows) that there was a flood emergency in Palm Beach County.  Okay. Sounds like a storm. I have driven in weather before.  I look out the window and it is coming down heavily, but hey it is rain--not a blizzard.

I had arranged for a compact car to rent, but they apparently were out of them so I got a hoo hah SUV. I drive an Element in Boston that I bought in 2006 so it has none of the fancy gizmos new cars have. This baby looked like a space ship inside.

I drive the car out of the lot and the rain is coming down. It takes me a stretch to figure out which button is for the defroster and to make sure I know how the wiper works and I am off.  Good lord was it wet.  I get on I-95 and find myself behind a slowpoke going 40 miles an hour while trucks are passing me providing a car wash like experience for my windshield.  I stay behind the slowpoke because visibility is lousy and I figure at least I can stay behind him.

About six miles before my exit, traffic slows and then it stops. This is interstate I-95 usually with nothing but fast moving motorists, certainly at midnight, and the cars are stopped, crawling at best. I figure there was one helluva accident or there is an area so flooded that cars cannot go by.  Meanwhile the rain is not abating. 40 minutes later I get to the area affected.

No accident.  We are talking newsreel looking views of floods and cars floating. The cars still moving are merging into one lane that is not underwater. The SUV is a blessing because otherwise the carriage would be soaked.

Make it through to my exit and then the five miles west on Atlantic Avenue I feel like Kirk Douglas in Sea Hunt.  Finally pull into my dad's condo and into the driveway.  But I can't figure out how to shut the car off.  It had been brought around by the car rental attendant and he left it running. I can't find the key to shut it off.  I go to press what I think is the interior light above my head and hit instead the gizmo for the sun roof. I am swamped by rain coming in before I can press it correctly to close it.

Finally, I figure out how to shut the car off. I move to the trunk to get out my suitcase. I cant get there. Water in the driveway is up to my knees. I cannot get to the trunk.

This morning I woke up to the surreal site of water flooding the streets. No car can drive out of this development even an SUV.  I took a barefooted walk around and except for one meshugeneh on a bicycle and others congregating outside their garages, this was like a scene after a hurricane when nothing but ducks are moving.  Can't drink the water. Can't flush the toilet.

It should be better by this afternoon, but the good news is that if you have never been in such a situation the experience highlights once again the things we take for granted.  Being able to drive. Get groceries. Drink water. Paddle a canoe.

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