The Days That the Rains Came Down

Floods of near Biblical proportions. Hardly. But that’s been the description of Colorado’s weather this September as deluges, torrents, surges, and crests inundated what normally is semi-arid country. While “100-year flood” is a fairly common description, ours this year has been more like a 500-year level.

Have people been taken by surprise? Certainly those who build on or travel over flood plains shouldn’t be. Yet we don’t normally expect waters to mount so high out of their ordinary channels that they escape bounds and cover nearby acres. It’s easy to think, “Well, we should build more wisely.” But we simply can’t anticipate every contingency.

I kind of like that. I like knowing people aren’t omnipotent, despite our illusions to the contrary, that the natural world exists beyond our control, and we’d better remember that. Still for reasons unknown, the public complains. “The storm sewage system is inadequate.” “The schools should have water-tight basements.” “Why aren’t there broader shoulders on mountain roads to catch the slides?”

It might be that our world has so few real challenges that we need natural disasters. Humanity hits its highs and lows at these times. We always hear stories of heroism and tragedy. The media has something to spotlight other than a film star’s marriages or the stock market’s changes. We all have a chance to think “what if” and chatter about a near-miss we’ve had. Like this one: I was going to drive to a mountain town with several friends on the first day of the rains. The downpour didn’t look that heavy along our route. My wiser companion pointed out that our highway went through mountain areas with steep, rocky, and bare slopes, and mud- and rock-slides could be a problem. We cancelled the trip. Sure enough, whoosh!, slides hit the route we would have traveled.

We should realize we can’t prepare for every single potential disaster. If we go with the flow a little more, and enjoy challenges as they come along, appreciating our participation in and survival of nature’s vagaries, we might approach my two-year-old grandson’s attitude. When he spotted the flood in his basement, he ran for his swim suit, begging his mom to take him down to the “Pool! Pool!”