It Stays With You
Texas has been getting pummeled with repeated rounds of severe storms. And Texans aren’t surprised. Because they’ve come to expect these epic storms. It’s familiar territory.
And once you’ve been a Texan (raises hand), you’ve always been a Texan. With a Texan’s memories and expectations.
These are some pictures of flooding in San Antonio, where I spent my formative years.
From a young age, I was schooled to avoid creeks and low lying areas during any kind of decent rainfall. In driver’s education, we spent the better part of a class learning about the signs of a flooded roadway and the repercussions of ignoring those signs. This was harder than you may imagine, as the literal measuring sticks at flood-prone intersections usually ended up underwater themselves. Even before I started driving, I learned alternate routes through the city that avoided the roads that had a tendency to submerge. That included a stretch of I-10 through downtown.
As a child, I watched with horror the footage of a school bus swept off the road by raging floodwaters, teenagers desperately grasping onto trees awaiting helicopter rescue. When I went tubing down the Guadalupe River every summer, I would stare up, way up, at the high water marks on the trees and rocks. I was stranded by water several times, unable to leave the house or unable to return.
As you can imagine, this stayed with me.
Even though Atlanta’s soil is actually permeable (unlike the slooow-draining limestone under a dusting of dirt that supports San Antonio), I still react defensively when the rain starts pounding. I mentally catalog potentially flooded roadways (a rarity here) and think about the closest high ground.
When my ex (also from San Antonio) and I purchased our first home in Atlanta, we viewed it with Texas eyes and insisted upon full coverage flood insurance even though we were not officially in a flood plain. We didn’t care. We saw that small, tame creek and didn’t trust it. Because we had both witnessed the incredible transformation of trickles into torrents in mere moments. In our ten years there, we never did use that insurance (although the flood map was redrawn a few years before we left and the house was deemed to be in the flood plain. Validation:) )
Of course, we didn’t buy the insurance with the expectation of using it. We bought it just in case. Protection against an unlikely but previously experienced outcome.
I didn’t have cheating, lying husband insurance.
Perhaps I should have. But that was an unexpected storm, one that I had never experienced and never saw coming.
One that I have now experienced.
And it stays with me.