Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Real Life Survival - Staying Above the Water Line! - Part One

Above the Water Line

While being prepared can give you confidence and strength before a disaster, you will need even more determination to recover from the life-altering effects of a disaster. Sometimes, even the best preparations aren’t enough and the devastating effects from most any type of disaster will test you to your limits. The sudden loss of everything that made up your life before the disaster struck can be a truly life-changing experience. It is an experience that will change your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Here is a story about real life survival and how you can overcome a disaster by refusing to give up!

Let’s step back in time for a moment to October 17th, 1998. Those persons who were living in the South Central Texas area remember this date quite well. The area suffered a flood of the 500 year variety. Raging floodwaters from torrential downpours filled the rivers of South Texas to overflowing and left widespread devastation over a very large part of Central Texas. The question wasn’t whether you suffered any effects from the flooding but how bad did it effect you. While some people suffered minimal effects, others suffered complete and total loss of everything that made up their lives. Lives, homes, cars, furniture and irreplaceable personal mementos were gone completely in a matter of minutes. The staggering amount of lives that were lost in the flooding was unreal and was the stuff only dreamed of in your worst nightmare.

Now let’s take a closer look at a specific individual and his unique circumstance and the life-changing effects of a truly devastating natural disaster. A fairly successful and respected businessman of almost thirty years, this individual was on an out of town trip when the worst happened. A flood of epic proportions had arrived at his doorstep on that fateful Saturday morning and he was away from home. It is important that you remember this simple fact: Disasters don’t follow a timetable but have one of their own and can arrive at your doorstep at any time of the day or night.

Knowing that even as little as two feet of water can sweep a vehicle off a road, this individual quickly realized that his truck was no exception and in some ways was even more vulnerable. Yes, the truck was vulnerable even with a higher ground clearance, which isn’t always a good thing. Having little or no weight in the bed of his truck made it extremely susceptible to being washed away at any type of low water crossing. There would be several of these in the path that would get him home where he could take care of his family and perhaps help out others in his community.

The original purpose of his trip was to supervise the moving of a mobile home that he had purchased and was planning to move to his farm in the country. These plans were quickly abandoned as the rain got heavier and heavier and he soon found himself standing in several inches of water as the relentless downpour continued. So much for that plan! A new plan had to be developed and quickly.

Adapt and overcome. You hear this saying a lot and this is exactly what needed to be done. It is important that you remember this simple fact: Major goals are more easily achieved by dividing them into smaller ones. Organize and prioritize. Do what needs to be done first and foremost. Hasty decisions made in a survival situation can often be worse than doing nothing at all.

Looking around quickly, he made a decision to use the concrete pads and blocks that were used to level and support the mobile home as ballast for his truck. Concrete is heavy and these blocks would give him the additional weight that was needed to give his truck more stability if he had to make any high water crossings. As he loaded the concrete blocks in the bed of his truck, he was certain there would be numerous high water crossings before he reached his destination.

The next thing he realized was that his route home would be very different from normal. Road closures due to high water would be the rule and not the exception. Thankfully he had traveled many different routes in this area and was familiar with a dozen different ways to get back home. Unfortunately, his major route home was now under six feet of water and that particular way was not an option on this very challenging trip home.

The next goal now became one of finding a safe route that was still open. He knew he could reach his goal and had begun the process of breaking his major goal into smaller ones and was taking things one step at a time. The first step had been completed. His vehicle was now weighted down and a little more stable than previously. It was now time to work on his second goal and find a workable route that was safe and would allow him to get home. This was in spite of the numerous low water crossings that would most likely be barricaded or too unsafe to cross.

Thus began the journey of a man known to many as Riverwalker.

As the rain continued to fall, he realized even now that his major problem was still going to be:

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

This sounds interesting, I'll be looking for more.

Anonymous said...

When I was working as a computer programmer big projects were the norm and it was not unusual for some of these big projects to fail miserably. Rarely did a failed project fail without ample warning of problems and indeed they were so obvious that even non-technical people could see the light. We, programmers and project managers, developed a philosophy we called "cancel projects quickly and proudly". That is when you at the most connected level recognize problems don't let management continue down the road to failure. Management was typically political not technical and often saw the concept of canceling a project to be the equivalent of failure. My message to you and others is often we ignore the warning signs of failure and push on simply because cancelling or changing your mind is viewed as failure. We push on through the high water because our goal is to get home or to the store or whatever. IT is this tendency to push ahead in the face of strong evidence you should do otherwise that takes lives.

Groundhog said...

Unlike you I was at my house in Cibolo at the time (though I no longer live there). We dubbed Cibolo creek "the might Missacibolo river" during that time. I'd never seen anything like that. There was a dry creek near the house that NEVER had water in it and it was a raging torrent. We lived about 1/4 mile from the creek. The area was flat and we had 4-6 inches of standing water all around us because it just came so fast there was nowhere for it to go. I kept telling the wife that if that creek overflowed to where we are that most of south Texas would be underwater. As I think back on that event I don't recall being terribly worried. I do recall not being terribly well prepared though. Had the water risen much more we would have become refugees. I wasn't into prepping at the time and really have only just gotten started but I do at least live on higher ground now.

Can't wait to hear more of your story!

Anonymous said...

Knowing the terrain intimately in those circumstances is critical, especially where the low lying areas are and what X amount of rain will do to them.

Glad to hear you made out alright - you kept your senses and thought out a good course of action.

mama4x said...

Thanks for the meaty post. Usually you are a man of few words.

Double Tapper said...

That is a great story.

riverwalker said...

To: YeOldFurt

More on the way!


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 11:27

My view has always been it's only a failure if you don't learn from the experience. As long as you realize that true failure comes from giving up.

Like the old saying: "It's not how many times you fall down that is important, it's how many times you get back up!"


riverwalker said...

To: Groundhog

Higher ground...this is a good thing!

Cibolo Creek reached historically high levels during this event and they've since made some major modifications to the drainage systems in that area.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 12:29

I've been fishing, tubing, camping and hiking all over this area over a great many years. traveled the main highways and the back roads also. i would not have liked to be in unfamiliar settings. In fact, if I had been in strange and unfamiliar surroundings, I would have probably taken a different course of action.

Done a lot of "riverwalking" also!

I've considered it vitally important and essential to be absolutely familiar with the area in which I live and not just my immediate neighborhood.


riverwalker said...

To: mama4x

Sometimes the hardest thing for me to find is the spare time to devote to my posts, especially working three jobs (1 full-time and 2 part-time). This is besides the normal "Honey-do's" Mrs. RW has lined up for me! LOL


riverwalker said...

To: Double Tapper

Thanks! The story continues...


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