So if you pay attention to the news you probably know that Tropical Storm Debby has been battering Florida for several days now. In fact, my family has been stuck at home for 3 days on account of extreme flooding.
We live on Snell Isle, a man-made island in St. Petersburg that usually fares well in most storms. However, Debby has been sitting in the Gulf of Mexico, pushing water into Tampa Bay while simultaneously dumping copious amounts of rain. The water has nowhere to go except into the streets.
For 3 days, the ocean has lapped at the seawall and covered our dock even during low tide.
I have had no problem staying and working at home for the last two days. My family is driving each other crazy but it is almost like a family vacation. You bear it and secretly enjoy it.
The problem was Sunday. When the storm hit its peak.
Fording the River [and Failing]
Sunday morning we awoke to rain and strong winds. Convinced that the weather would delay Peter’s flight, we called Delta who said there was only a 15 minute delay. Really?
At 7am, we grabbed umbrellas and were literally pushed by the wind to my car. It was insane! I drove Peter to the airport which was a little scary. The Howard-Franklin bridge was especially windy.
Peter’s flight departed without a hitch and I went back to bed. At 11:30am I headed to the Vinoy to train my client. The session was great! I decided to stay and workout since the weather seemed nasty. While watching TV on the stationary bike, I noticed water slowly pouring into the gym. Rain was coming through the ceiling at some points, puddles were forming under the machines, while the door refused to stay shut. It seemed like a recipe for disaster so I headed home at about 2pm.
At this point the rain was really coming down and Beach Drive was starting to flood. I made my way down the street until a lady in a raincoat carrying barricades blocked my way and gestured me to turn around. Peering through the rain streaked windows, I could see that Coffee Pot Blvd. was completely submerged with the ocean coming over the seawall.
Now it was a torrential downpour. I tried coming at Coffee Pot from the opposite direction in an attempt to get over the Snell Isle Bridge but again met a submerged street. So I turned around to drive in the back way. I made it pretty far, plowing through flooded streets along with every other crazy person out on the road.
Finally I reached a corner of street next to the Vinoy golf course that was flooded but offered direct access to Snell Isle Boulevard and then home!
I plowed through the water, foot on the gas pedal, then realized something was wrong. The water was getting deeper. And fast. Not good.
I kept my foot on the gas until the I felt the engine sputter as the emergency lights lit up the dashboard. In a panic, I turned the wheel and drove the car up on a lawn right as the car died. Still shaking but relieved that the car was out of the foot deep water, I saw home owner of the lawn step outside.
Figuring she might help me, I stepped out into the rain and was immediately accosted with screams. “What the hell are you doing?? Get off the @!@$%!# lawn!!! I’m calling the cops!! You’re destroying the lawn!!!!!”
Stupefied and shaken I yelled back, “What do you want me to do?? My car just died!! I can’t go anywhere! My car is dead!”
She screamed back, “You better call someone!! I’m calling the cops!”
Ok psycho lady. Please call the cops. Obviously they will be able to drive here through the rivers and lakes. Let’s call them so they can tow my car. Thanks.
I got back in the car. I was so upset and shaking uncontrollable. I have never screamed at a stranger like that ever in my entire life. Calling the cops? Are you crazy? It’s a tropical storm!! I’d push the car off your stupid water soaked lawn if I could. I called my parents, sobbing of course over my dead car and a psycho b**** calling the cops. My dad said he would come get me.
It was 3pm. I hadn’t eaten since 10. I found an apple Taylor left in the car. I devoured it. I stopped shaking and started laughing hysterically. I wondered if the psycho lady would come at me with a baseball bat. I kinda hoped she would.
It started to rain harder. 30 minutes later my dad walked up. He tried to start the car to no avail. I grabbed my belongings, wrapped myself up in a beach towel, took out the umbrella, and followed my dad to the lady’s front door. I stayed behind, avoiding another close encounter. My dad talked to her saying we had to the leave the car for now but would pay for any lawn damages. Weirdly the lady talked to him through a window and would not open the front door, saying “she lost the key”. Bullshit. She came out the front door screaming at me! She was scared of my dad.
She did tell my dad she was sorry for losing her cool. Apparently people had driven over her lawn several times before. Well, my car would stop that from now on. Hahaha. She should thank me.
My dad and I started the trek back home. He had to park way down Brightwaters because every street was flooded. Snell Isle Boulevard was completely underwater from the bridge to Venetian Isles! My dad said this was the absolutely worst he had seen in 25 years.
20 minutes of slogging through thigh deep water, we finally made it back. My poor sneakers were absolutely soaked. At least I got in a pretty good workout. Haha!
For the rest of the day I holed up in Peter’s USC sweatshirt, still kind of shell shocked, mindlessly watching movies. We tried to drive out and rescue the car 2 times that night but were met with the same flooded streets.
Since then I have been stuck at home, trapped by the flood, talking to the insurance company. This is actually the second time I’ve destroyed a car. Yeah, I’m pretty cool.
So I tried to ford the river and failed.
But I made 30 bucks (from training) and can now say that I have been in a screaming match with a stranger. Win.