Flash Flood Watch

I've never been in dire danger of drowning from a flash flood.

In El Paso, it usually rained 3 or 4 times a year. These were usually flash floods. These huge storms would sweep in across the plains, run into the different weather around the Rio Grande & the Franklin Mountain foothills, and just lose all control. All the water that fell on the mountains, of course, rushed down into the city at its feet.

You always knew when rain was coming. The mesquite got this really great scent just before and after a storm.

After the flood, the desert over our back wall looked like an ocean; some of the sand dunes were islands. Occasional mesquite trees broke through, and tumbleweeds floated like seaweed without the sense to sink.

Within a couple of hours, the water was gone. Another hour or two and there was no trace of mud. Another hour or so and the desert was cracked crust, waiting for wind, people, animals, whatever, to knock it back to plain old sand. Everything would grow really fast for a day or two. If it was spring, the cacti would bloom madly, and for a desert, it would be a riot of color.

I remember Dad driving home in his beat up old Renault Doodle Bug (VW) ripoff. Other cars died in the deep water; his just ran on, due to some lucky decision an engineer had made. Other cars, nicely watertight, were unsafe even if they ran. With water 6 to 12 inches above the road surface, most cars became boats, only they didn't steer too well, and power was a poor joke. But that $99 Renault just let the water spout up through the holes in the floor, fill a couple of inches, and drain out some higher holes. As a boat, it stunk - well, sunk - so Dad got home fine while everyone else got stranded.

The only problem I ever had with flooding was a flash flood in NW Atlanta I didn't know had happened. I had dropped Sharon off at her dorm, and was driving home in my apt mate's (Andre's) Pinto (we drove each other's vehicles a lot). I came around a corner downhill onto a bridge over a creek. Just as I got to it I realized that nearly the entire bridge was under water.

Andre had just put big, fat tires on the car. That and the heavily flared wheel wells spelled doom all of a sudden...

Doing the speed limit, I skated across the water into the nice, solid, concrete wall (which beat going down the creek, I suppose), carromed across into the other wall, bounced back to the first wall as I lost enough speed and air under the now trashed wheel wells to finally sink to the road. The engine kept going, I shifted to 1st, and splashed on down the road to a filling station, where I pried the wheel wells out of the nice new tires. Andre' ended up trading for a pickup truck, and I paid the $550 difference in the car's new value vs its week-before value.

I wish I'd been driving a $99 Renault that night...

Last updated: 16 May 1997

Copyright 1995 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514