Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Flooding in Binghamton, Part II

 September 8, 2011
My city is underwater.

Everyone I know is safe. A number of friends had to abandon their homes in the evacuation. They are still evacuating people from their homes. The sun is out but the rivers are still rising. They evacuated houses to the west of us, south if us, east of us and to the north of us.
Downtown Binghamton at its worst, aerial photo from newsfeed.
…but we still have power. The hot water tank can be relit or replaced. The water can be emptied from the basement. All of the roads into the city are closed. All of the bridges are closed. We’re in a state of emergency. It’s hard to find out what’s open or closed. The helicopters and sirens are becoming constant background noise. We can’t drink the water. If you were evacuated in 2006, you MUST leave your homes NOW. They’re coming to get you. The waters are still rising. The river hasn’t crested…
There was no rain today, though the waters continued to rise. My morning glories opened. The streets around me were soggy but visible. The dawn brought some familiarity as early-morning neighbors walked their dogs. And then the pictures poured in across the internet and the water levels kept rising and more people were evacuated as my landlord pumped more water from the basement.
I am going to create an altar to the Almighty Sump Pump, a breathing and whirring fountain deity. I’m beginning to understand how divinities were born... not always from fear, but sometimes from gratitude. Thank you, oh spirit of the Sump Pump, who takes the bad water out of my basement and returns it to the earth outside, to bake away in the heat of this hot summer sun… how can I have such an overwhelming feeling for a mechanical device? I think anyone who has been saved by one would understand.
Johnson City flooded, photo from newsfeed.
Shared experiences bond people. Looking at the breadth of the flooding on-line made me cry. Landmarks I should know well were barely discernable. I couldn’t believe those images were happening outside the walls of my house. The pull to go see it was strong, like wanting to see a body to make the death of it real. But it wasn’t over yet. I knew we’d be in the way, so a friend and I made a compromise and took a walk toward higher ground. When houses are flooding, or filling with water, they no longer feel safe. So we went outside.
            A walk in the park displayed a staggering variety of fungus carpeting the ground beneath us, decay and life wrapped up in one motion. The streets were so still we thought the city deserted. We talked of water and reflection and how it soothes and heals and also magnifies. Grounding the excess would be important. We talked about how natural disasters fear us back into our bodies, into ourselves. They remind us what it's like to be alive because being alive is both life and death. It was good to be outside. It was good to be with friends. It was good to see the sun.

Not an apple, a fungus, Recreation Park.
My friend said we believed them when they told us it wouldn't happen again in 2006. And people rebuilt. They said it wouldn't happen again for another 100 years. They said... but science is not divinatory and nature does not bend to its whims. They were sure. They were pretty damn sure. But it happened again, washing away the security net so many had held onto. It is happening. The damage is already worse than 2006, and continuing.
We had a conversation today about planning a lunch date to our favorite Chinese restaurant and a trip to the fabric store. But a moment ago I was sobered by a photo of the plaza underwater, where our restaurant lives, and the realization that the fabric store might not even be there... I can’t believe I forgot that earlier.
Vestal Plaza underwater, photo from newsfeed.
We simply don't know much yet. It just happened yesterday. It just happened today. It’s still happening. The water is still rising.
Tonight, my crisis mode is over, the shock is ebbing and the scope of the damage is more than a bit overwhelming. I reassured my family that no matter what they saw, we were okay and were going to be okay. And we will. And we are. But there is so much water everywhere, magnifying the grief and horror of what was lost. How long will it take to pull ourselves out this time? It is not lost on me that there is so much water here, flooding New York when Texas is on fire and so much land burns around our family there. It’s imbalance trying to right itself.
I am grateful for my family and friends and my breath right now. I am breathing. My family is okay. My friends are safe. We will help each other with what comes next. Dark moments remind us of what we have and illuminate that we have more than we need. I am grateful. And lucky. So very, very lucky.
Vestal Plaza, sunset. Photo attributed to Jen O'Brien and found on Facebook.
            I will sleep tonight and dream of the waters receding. I will dream of sunshine to come and bake the layers of water away, revealing what was lost beneath. Hold us in your thoughts, hold us in your dreams, as we do what humans do and rebuild again.

Yesterday: Part I, To evacuate or not to evacuate.
Tomorrow: Part III, The waters are receding.

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