Disaster Relief

Disaster Relief

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The windshield wipers are working overtime. I wish they would move faster but they are at the highest speed possible. The rain is swooshing off the windshield and with each wipe, I can see outside only for a brief moment.

This rain is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I wonder how soon it will stop. Every radio station I tune into is telling everyone to get home and hunker down. The school called. I’m on my way to pick up the kids.

En route, I’m stuck in what would be typical rush-hour traffic on Monday mid-morning. It’s actually only 1 p.m. on a Tuesday in Autumn. It’s dark and there is water several inches above the tires. The rain just continues to pound on the car and road. Waves of water seem to roll off the car. I get hit by a giant splash every time another vehicle drives alongside.

I worry about the basement flooding then think what a silly thought. I better think about getting the kids. Is this going to stop soon, so we can make it home? Pretty sure they are going to miss karate class.

The phone rings.

“Call from Harry,” says the automated voice in my white Mini Cooper.

“Accept” I say. Harry and I are connected.

“Hi Sweetheart.” I am getting panicky. You can hear it in my voice. “Oh my god, I’m terrified,” I tell him before he can answer.

“Hey Meg.,” he starts. “I’m stuck. Did you get a call?”

“Yeah, on my way to pick up Lucy and Ben. I can’t believe this mess. It’s like something out of a dream.”

“No kidding. I’m glad you’re on your way to get the kids. Take your time, honey. It’s like it’s karma that I’m stuck in my Escalade and your Mini is the one that’s turning out to be reliable…” he begins laughing then he hears me draw in a huge breath.

“Harry!” I yell. Thunder roars and lightning has just flashed in front of me. A huge tree, comes crashing down and I veer out of the way, only to have the car skid off the road.

I am fully aware, awake and in reacting-mode. I hear “Meg? Meg! What happened?”

I can’t answer him, not even having time to scream, I can only react as The Mini continues its decent down the slope. With each unnerving moment passing by, I swerve and miss a few people on the sidewalk on my way down. I slam on the brakes and I’m suddenly tumbling through the air with the car.

“Meg? Honey!!” More yelling from Harry.

Glass smashes and I pray my seatbelt holds me in. After a few rolls, the car stops, upside down. I realize I’m stuck. As in my body is. I take a few deep breaths. I feel incredibly calm. I give a small moan and can’t believe Harry and I are still connected.

“What happened? Meg, you there?”

Another grimace and moan, as I try to calm myself. “Mmm, mmm. I think so.” I tell him. “I was in a bad accident. I’ve rolled the Mini.”

“Ok, hang in there sweetie.” I chuckle mentally, when I realize he doesn’t know how right he is, I’m literally hanging upside down. “Help’s on the way.” Though I find this hard to believe when I see water trickling in through the smashed up windows.

As he says this, the Bluetooth satellite connection goes and starts crackling. I was about to say “I love you” and start choking back tears. I fixate on the phone satellite connection. I don’t know how to turn it off. It sure is annoying. Time to get myself out of here and fast, I tell myself.

Then I slowly assess the damage – I think that I am ok. As for the car, it’s certainly a write-off.
My head is touching the ceiling. I want to get down. I want to get out of here. I think again that I’m probably okay, a few cuts, I guess. Am I in shock? I look at my hands and I notice that I was pretty accurate about the superficial injuries. There are some broken glass shards on my arm and legs. Now, the blood has been rushing to my head and I’m starting to feel woozy. What is all that splashing? There is a lot of noise and water around. Water is still coming into the car and the top of my head is wet. I touch it and check my fingers for blood. Nope, just water, I feel a bit of relief. Relief for a moment until it hits me that I only have a few minutes to get out before I drown.

Thump-thump-thump. My heart is pounding harder and faster. The sound is mixed with the crackle of the Bluetooth. It’s thumpa-thumpa-thumpa, cshchchch. I start talking to myself. Oh no you don’t Meg. You are getting out of here. Do not pass out. Water is rising and soon my head will be under. I won’t be able to breathe. I have to get out. Don’t panic! I fumble to unbuckle my seatbelt and land with a thud on the roof.

I lie there for a second and look in awe at how badly the car metal crumbled as I flipped. The top of the car has been crunched in, not leaving me enough room to squeeze through the side windows. Mud is coming in. I’m spitting out water and trying not to cut myself too much more on the glass shards. Maybe through the windshield. The yoga classes have paid off, I mutter to myself, as I am arched in an awkward upward-dog type pose because of the crumpled car. As I search for something to break the glass, I hear a voice.

More lightning. A voice. “Hello!” Harry was right, I think to myself, feeling such love for my husband in that instant. Man that was fast! I see a face peeking at me. “Help,” I shout. “I don’t know if I can get through that there.”

Before I can say anymore, I hear him say “cover your face” as I hear glass is being broken around the edge of the windshield.

A strong, firm hand reaches in and I grab the hands and get pulled out. I start crying before I can even control myself. I look at the mess of the car for a moment as the downpour continues. I look up at the man who pulled me out and I don’t quite see his face.

The ground is soaked and muddy, not to mention slippery. We’re standing in several feet of water. We slide across the ground. He is asking me something in his deep voice.

“Miss, are you okay?” I shout to him that “I’m fine.” I really don’t feel it but I know that I want to act brave. He continues to hold me upright and we do a quick walk through the muck. We are practically running but the depth of the water makes it difficult. I am taking in everything around us, as we move. It is very difficult to see anything with the rain continuing to pour on us. I see other people who have abandoned their cars and are sloshing through the mud and increasing puddles. I start shivering intensely and my hero starts to rub my arms as we half-run/walk to shelter.

“We’ve got to dry off,” he says. “I’m Larry.”

There’s a set of shops and we’re almost under the overhang. “When we get there, we can talk”, he pulls his hood back a little to look at me, and I look at him. He has certainly got a beautiful face.

I think that I would find any face that rescued me like that beautiful, I suddenly think. Here is my hero.

I tell him my name, unsure of what to do. “I’m Meghean. Everyone calls me Meg.”

“Meg, that was quite an accident.”

“Yeah” I don’t know what to say. I’m scared and cold and hurting. I’m also crying.

“Thank you,” I say next. Trying to find words, trying to get my brain to work.

“My kids need me.” He looks concerned as well. “I know. Mine too,” he says.

“I was on the phone with Harry and he’s stuck. I’m supposed to pick up Lucy and Ben.”

“Harry’s your husband?” he asks. I nod. I’m shaking pretty badly from the chill now.

I suddenly tune into what is going on around me, as the shock starts to wear off. Or maybe I was never in shock to begin with and now it’s starting. I make a worried face. I listen to what Larry is telling me. He’s talking and there is also a lot of background noise.

“Phone’s dead, communication’s down with the storm. Let’s try to help each other.”

“Ok. How come you’re walking around?” I ask. He tells me that he had to desert his car because of the water and he was trying to take a short-cut through the park to the kids school. He saw the Mini roll and came over to help me. He tells me his kids school is still a good half-hour walk from here.

Larry’s got a wife and one kid. He’s saying things are a mess everywhere. As I become less disoriented I realize that I’ve left my purse, cell phone and keys back at the car.

Next thing I know I’m opening up, words spilling from me in a frantic rush.

“I was on my way to get my kids. I have to get them. I don’t know how to let them know what’s happened.” I continue thinking how I almost died. “Thank you for being there.”

There are several accidents, sirens, people are yelling.

He runs back to my car after leaving me with his jacket wrapped around me. He gets my soaked, muddied purse. I check it and find my cell, wallet and keys inside. I’m feeling incredibly cold and realize I’ve got to get moving so my joints don’t stiffen any further.

We are talking loudly, because the sound of the rain mixed with all the other noise makes it difficult to hear each other. We decide to look for higher ground and a shelter to plan on how to get our kids. We just hope the schools are keeping them safe. I don’t want to worry. I can’t help myself.

Larry still has his arms around me and he is rubbing me frantically with a very concerned look on his face.

“Meghean? You are white as a ghost and shivering uncontrollable. Do you feel cold?” I tune into myself and notice that I am shivering but I’m not cold.

“I’ve got to get you some dry clothes, you’re soaked and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are in some state of shock.” He starts asking me who I am, my kids names and where they go to school.

I look down at my hands again, and I look at the scene continuing to unfold around me. What about Lucy and Ben? Are they scared? Did Harry pick them up? I can’t believe this is happening. We’re too far to walk there. What if Harry was hurt and in an accident like me?

I hear Larry making reassuring noises in my ear. “Shh! It’s okay,” he’s whispering in my ear. I must be panicking out loud. I’m shaking so much I may fall over. Larry has me in a tight embrace. Suddenly everything goes black.

I’m coming to. I feel warmth and whisper, “Harry.” Panic grips me though as I realize that I am in somebody else’s bed. “Where am I?” I sit up quickly and feel dizzy. I notice that I am in someone’s room but one I’ve never been in. Then I remember what happened with the Mini and Larry.

“Larry?” I shout.

Larry comes in and smiles. He has a cup of something warm for me. “Hey. I thought you might be up soon. I’m so glad you are looking better. Here. Some tea.”

“Thanks.” I suddenly feel a bit embarrassed realizing I’m in new clothes.

“You’re probably wondering what’s happened since you blacked out.”

“Yeah.”

“I remembered my friend Jim lives nearby with his family and walked you over. I was just hoping he was. We got lucky.”

“His wife Danielle was here at home with the kids. She helped you get changed. Jim just got home.”

“Have you been able to reach your family?” I ask. He nods. He was able to use Jim’s cell phone and reached the school. His son is okay but, there is some serious flooding all around us and the rain is still coming. He fills me in on his plans.

“Jim and I are leaving now to get our kids. There is no way to drive in this mess, so we are going to walk to the school – it’s about 5 kilometres away. We’re not sure the kids are going to make the walk back easily, so we may sleep at the school and continue on in the morning.“

“I’m so glad you reached your family,” I say. “And thank you so much for saving my life. I can’t thank you enough.” He smiles. “I couldn’t leave you there, you know. I had to make sure the person in that flipped car was alright.”

I so miss my husband and my family right now more than ever. I hope to contact them and ask, “Can I borrow the phone? I need to reach Harry.”

He nods. Then he tells me that he tried calling Harry from my cell phone and couldn’t reach him. He also tried to get a hold of the kids school and the connection wouldn’t go through.

“I hope you don’t mind that I went through your address book.” He adds, “I knew you were worried and I hoped to offer you some reassuring news when you awoke.”

I sit up and try the phone. Larry leaves to give me some privacy using the excuse to get me some more tea. I try the phone and Harry’s not picking up, the school line also seems to be down. I silently pray, feeling helpless and lost. I don’t know if my family is okay. I try my Mom’s number and she doesn’t answer either.

Larry comes in with more tea and can see the bad news written on my face. “Did you hear any news?” he asks me with concern. I shake my head.

“I can’t reach anybody. I don’t know what to do.” Larry tries to be reassuring, squeezing my arm. He gets up and tells me that he and Jim are leaving to his son’s school.

“Danielle has got some food downstairs and she says you can come down when you like.” He leaves the room and I hear him and boots shuffling.

The door closes and I resign myself to take in a few deep breaths. I make my way downstairs, unaware of what the next few days will bring.

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