Fredo the Hurricane, Tropical Storm, Rain-Cloud weather system visited us yesterday. Escaping flooding at the rectory I chased off at 6:00 AM to go to a doctor’s appointment in Brevard. I did do up that medical appointment, and then saw a doctor of the soul, a priest, and was able to go to Confession some town away from there (which I try to do weekly, the best way to go to heaven).
- Within minutes of leaving the rectory, zipping through the Nantahala Gorge, there were three downed trees over that river road, already cut away as people travel with chain saws for this reason on super-rainy days. I myself have cut away fully seven trees over the highway in my times in the parish here. Yesterday, one of the trees in particular looked to have been hit by a vehicle, a likely event on the blind-cliff-edge-curves at night with pouring rain.
- Getting out on the Smoky Mountain Expressway, there were early morning accidents, but already being attended.
- On the way back, there was a parking lot experience for many hours on Interstate 40. Old style manual shift on steep hills for hours of a traffic jam is… interesting. Dozens of emergency vehicles passed by on the breakdown down lane and using the central median. In the mayhem, a fire engine suffered a broken axel and was left behind. There were, I’m guessing, some 15 rescue rafts being hauled to whatever scene by emergency vehicles. Plenty of ambulances, State Troopers… I hate to image what happened with that…
- Meanwhile, I passed over some mud from two side by side landslides that had crashed up to Interstate 40 but without leaving dangerous debris – for the seconds I passed by – but then a couple minutes later an emergency alert came over the phone telling people not to use the breakdown lane, as that had to be kept free for emergency vehicles, as a landslide just at that spot just then had totally compromised the highway. We had been moving along with no one in the breakdown lane at all. A highway stopping landslide had taken place, I guess, seconds after I had just passed by.
- Not long after that – and I just missed seeing this accident by literally a second – I came upon a pickup truck crashed out right in the middle of the interstate. It had slid hard into the concrete barriers, twice, and bounced back onto the highway. Smoke coming from the windows made me think the worst as I ran to them, but the smoke was not smoke at all. It was clouds of deployed air-bag dust. I saw they were alive, though rather stunned, and then collected their front and back bumpers on the highway – as that large debris surely would have caused more accidents – throwing, then, the bumpers into the bed of their truck. Waving traffic away and asking one guy who actually slowed down to call 911, I got their truck off the highway. I told them that their engine was gushing oil and they couldn’t drive any further. One other guy stopped to help. There are good people, but so many hardly slowed down in super dangerous conditions with many people walking on the highway itself. Sad, that.
- Finally, getting back to the last stretch going through the Nantahala Gorge again…. nope. A landslide had crashed over the highway in the Gorge. That would have happened not long after I had passed through that morning, as there was about a quarter mile of barrels and back-lit information signs and backlit arrow signs and more upright barriers barring access to the Gorge. Those take time to put up. The detour was put on the other side of the mountain chain, in the neighboring county.
- Finally, finally, getting home… uh oh… my own street was blocked because of the rushing overflowing flood waters of the Town Branch, which is the border of the lot of the rectory. “Town Branch” would better be named “Town Torrent.” But that had receded a bit and I was able to get into the driveway, and then sit for a time with the neighborhood that had gathered on the porch of the next door neighbor’s house.
The best road I was on yesterday was the road to heaven, what with going to Confession and all. Jesus is the Way, the Only Way. And the priestly conversation after was spectacular. And “Days Off” are always an adventure.