Not really sure which I had more respect for on a submarine; fire or flooding. I think most people who aren’t in a flooding situation will tell you that a fire is more feared. Between the round shape of the hull and all the stuff that can burn, fires have a tendency to spread pretty quickly. Plus, because of the nature of the stuff that typically burns, a lot of smoke is released which explains why we drill so much using emergency breathing masks that are temporarily opaque to simulate reduced visibility.
Flooding was the casualty that gave me recurring dreams though. You might even say they were nightmares since I do remember struggling to get out of my rack in a cold sweat only to find that the berthing area was all quiet except for Petty Officer T’s incessant snoring. I would sheepishly crawl back into the rack hoping no one had seen my momentary panic. But I can assure you I did not fall back asleep no matter how long we had field dayed the boat prior to my short sleep.
When they actually do sound the collision alarm, you don’t ignore it. In your head, you hope it’s a drill but if its done at an unusual time with no hint of a drill coming, you definitely get an adrenaline rush. I think that after five boats, that’s why I still sleep so light. I think if my wife ever really wanted to push me to the next world, all she would have to do is wait for some night when I was in one of my rare deep sleeps and rig up a collision alarm next to my bed. Yep, that would just about do it as I tried to pull the curtain on my rack aside and hunt for my poopy suit only to find that I was not ready to answer the alarm. Can you spell heart attack?
Central Pennsylvania has been sounding the flooding alarm a lot the last few days. Remnants of Hurricane Lee (tropical storm?) moved slowly through our area similar to what Agnes did almost forty years ago. All up and down the Susquehanna Valley, people who like a nice water view are getting an up close and personal encounter with the water they love so much. Central Pennsylvania is a beautiful area with rolling hills, large expanses of open farmland and gentle streams and creeks that provide a nice backdrop on a sunny day. The typically winding and dipping roads are actually one of the fun things when the weather is nice since it provides you with an experience somewhat similar to what a Le Mans race would be. But when the skies open up and pour ten inches of rain in a day, all of those characteristics work against her.
There had been a lot of rain recently which helped to saturate the ground. Another Hurricane had recently passed to the east but dropped lots of water all through the tributary areas. Lee’s arrival came at a particularly bad time and its slow-moving nature made it a very productive rain maker. Those back roads quickly develop into dangerously unexpected obstacles from fallen trees and accumulated water. If it happens in the night, it becomes harder to see and results in a lot of accidents. Making the wrong choice in which route you travel will almost always result in unexpected delays at best and something much more tragic at their worst. This storm also affected the major highways which line the rivers and streams here. I have never seen a large stretch of the turnpike closed before but it was needed this time to prevent people from getting trapped.
Mandatory evacuations were in place all over the Harrisburg and Hershey areas. We still have electricity so far and water but many of the communities are already under a boil water advisory. The one thing I noticed was that even though the word had been put out days before that this was a very high possibility, how completely surprised so many people were that they would have to be evacuated. Plus, you could tell by their comments, how unprepared they were for even the most basic needs. The shelters are full in all of the counties around us and almost all of those people brought little to nothing with them. The worst part is that in the low-lying areas, they will not have much to go back to.
I seriously wish there was a giant collision alarm that I could sound. I wish even more that people would take preparation more seriously before the big event. At the end of the day, it’s still a choice isn’t it. Even the best preparations will not overcome the really big events. But being ready for the types of possible casualties in your area might just mean that one of the first responders won’t have to risk his or her life for someone who didn’t think they would ever be a victim. Well, off to the Church to help dry out the basement. Hopefully the rain will stop soon.
If you have a spare one, a lot of really nice people could use your prayers. The new water ride at Hershey Park is not very welcome at all.