This past week started out like any other one. I knew that our area of Middletown was expecting to have rain all week. What I don’t think I, or many others realized, is how much rain and how fast it fell.
And oh, did it rain.
As I started to hear about road closures on Wednesday morning, I talked with my editor about heading out to take photos. I was thinking that this would just be a small event. I was mistaken. I grabbed my camera, headed out the door. Little did I know what events were about to unfold in the day, and days to follow.
I first headed to Vine Street, where some flooding had been reported. I saw some flood waters down off Red Bridge Road, it had a road block and so I parked my car, put on the vest my publisher and editor told me I had to wear, and headed down the hill. I started to snap some photos of flood waters as a resident started to talk to me. I couldn’t hear him, but he was trying to say something to me. There was a rather large puddle between us, and it didn’t LOOK that deep. I knew I was going to get wet eventually, so I might as well hop in and try to speak to the man. I took three steps, feeling the water up to my ankles.
My fourth step was brutal, as I almost fell when my foot landed, I was in water that was almost waist-high. I laughed about it, thinking it was funny. It wasn’t, I realized later that it was a really dumb thing to do, and I didn’t do that again.
The next day when I returned to that same spot, If I had been standing there, I would have about 10 feet of water over my head, it was really amazing how fast the flood waters rose.
I headed back to the office to upload some photos and dry off a bit.
After talking with Middletown Borough officials, I learned that rescue workers were over at Harborton Place (Caravan Court) helping people evacuate.
As I reached the location, crews were finishing up and loading the boats, so I photographed that, then followed them as they were getting another call and began to head over to Lower Swatara.
It started to rain again as I drove on Rt. 230 in hopes of finding the crew, I had lost them. That’s about the moment when I wish I had a siren so I could get to places fast, sometimes I end of missing my shots because I missed the action.
Lucky for me, the crew had stopped at another mobile home park on Rt. 230 in Lower Swatara called Jednota Flats. As soon as I arrived I could see the crew getting boats in the water as residents waded in water up to their waists’ in some places.
I talked to many of them, asking how they were doing, getting information. I was updating my editor on everything I was seeing, and what I was doing and he was updating our website, getting together a story to post on what is usually a day when we have just finished this process and are starting over.
He wanted me to use my new smart phone to take photos so he could then pull them and post up the story. This was my first time using my cell phone for work, as a camera.
I didn’t spend over $3,000 on equipment to use a cell phone that cost me $100, the quality in not comparable, but because I wasn’t able to get back, it was the quickest way to get the story, which was changing by the second. So it’s really difficult to use a touch phone in the rain. One drop and my screen freezes.
Finally I got a few that were ok and started to post them on Facebook. This was much faster than trying to email them to my editor. After he downloaded the photos, he could then post them up on our website. It started to really, really rain. So after a while, I headed back.
Since I have been working at the Press And Journal there are times when I feel like I should follow ever fire engine and every police car that speeds up my street with lights flashing. This was no time to stay and edit photos all day, things were happening, I had to be out there. I posted a few photos up on our Smugmug page.
I had driven around Lower Swatara but as the roads got worse, I began to get really moody. I was soaked, tired, and every single road I turned on seemed to be flooding, diverted several times, I was speaking with my editor on the phone, after having to take Rt 283 to get to my town. Just as I was saying “I will take Vine Street, I think it’s still open” – I missed the exit.
I look in my rear view mirror and all of a sudden there is a black SUV about to slam into me, it blared it’s horn, but I had no were to go, I was in the right lane, so I couldn’t get over, there wasn’t even a shoulder for me to move to.
A few seconds later, he passed me, and then proceeded to do the same thing (ride up) on another car. Not sure what the heck that guy was doing, but anything is possible on a day like this.
So then I took Toll House Road exit off 283 and headed towards Middletown on Rt. 230. A few moments later, water was covering the roads, and it was impassable.
I got out of my car, worked on getting some photos, then got back in my car and hoped that I could get to the office from Vine Street. Glad when Vine Street was open, I headed back, and was exhausted. I planned to spend Thursday doing major editing.