Summary: A flood is headed to Elwood City. While the children don’t know what to make of it, the adults have a good idea of what’s about to go down…yet even they will be wrong. First story for my new Disasters series. Can also be found here on ff.net.
The house had a ring of sandbags around it, but Arthur wondered if it would be enough. Across town, Muffy was shocked by the ugliness of the bags surrounding her home, a wall that kept growing as a team of ten guys worked. She was suddenly conscious of how close they were to a small creek, one that was prone to overflowing its banks after a summer storm. How would it be now that it was raining for days?
Kids across Elwood City were finally realizing how dire the situation was. The grim expressions of the adults combined with ROAD CLOSED signs being set up near areas where bridges could wash out, plus the sandbags and constant weather reports, helped them see the gravity of the situation. Elwood City was about to get pounded by inches upon inches of rain.
Brain knew what that meant. One inch of rain falling in one place wouldn’t go very far, but one inch of rain covering an entire city piled up as that water flowed downhill or into storm drains, flowing and piling up as the water dispersed. It all ended up in the Atlantic Ocean at some point, and one inch of rain usually took a day to do that. This was more than one inch and more than one day. The math eluded him, but he knew this wasn’t good.
A quiet sank over the city. No cars with blaring music went by, and normally rowdy houses calmed. Francine was struck by this as she sat reading in her room, her mind finally wondering why she wasn’t having to concentrate harder over the wrestling boys from downstairs or the stomping lady from two doors down. She realized she didn’t have to concentrate over them because they were quiet, so quiet that it kept her from reading. She was worried now, and she soon joined her family in the living room, where they gathered around the television set and watched a daytime talk show.
Kids across the city were surprised by this. Why was Dad watching a soap opera on CBS? Why was Mom watching that medical show she hated? They watched on too wondering why they were there. But then a commercial came. No jingles flooded the room or screaming voices begging for you to buy their products. Instead the local meteorologists appeared, tracking more rain after telling you how much had fallen so far—two point sixty-three, whatever that meant.
Things were tense but fine. The news reports eventually came on in due time. Muffy noticed the creek by her house was on the news, but it was still well within its banks. ROAD CLOSED signs were only out in anticipation for tomorrow, when the water would rise underneath bridges and put them at risk for washing out. Or for when storm drains clogged or water piled up or something. Sandbags weren’t holding back water yet, just providing ominous fortresses around the city’s vulnerable houses and buildings.
People were encouraged to create their own walls if they hadn’t already, check their pumps in their basements, and make sure their outside pets had plenty of shelter. Children were encouraged to stay inside and enjoy their day off. Reporters tried to be positive, but the mood in Elwood City remained the same: Tense anticipation for the danger to come.