Wait a minute ... I'll take another look

... the lake extends down the Parkway, past the High School

by Joe Sullivan

Photo by Len Dalton

"Nothing so far," I said to my youngest son David who was calling me on my cell phone to see how my basement was faring in the torrent, "But wait Ďtill I take another look." Fatal words, as I walk down my cellar stairs the water on my basement floor comes into view. "Check that, " I say, "I do have some water, but itís no big deal. Itís seeping in near a drain in the front of the house." A stream of it has meandered across the concrete floor in front of my furnace and continues on and then under the bottom of the knotty pine wall on one side of the playroom to form a little thin puddle that is spreading over the vinyl floor.

"No big deal, Dave," I say. I know that if the puddle expands enough it will eventually reach the recessed floor drain where the water will drain out. "I doubt that itís going to come in faster than it can drain out. How are you doing?" Not so hot, he says. He lives in Winthrop and heís got only about an inch or so in his basement but is not feeling too good about the fact that the rain has not let up yet and is afraid heís going to get more. Just the same, heís checking on the Old Man to make sure everything is okay.

All my kids do this, the ones who live in Park City, Utah and Boulder, Colorado respectively where they see the situation on the news including the specific mention of Melrose, Massachusetts, and my kids who live around here in Newburyport, Wakefield and Winthrop who are finding out that Dear Old Dad is fat, damp and happy, waterwise, anyway.

My local kids, as a matter of fact are doing worse, theyíve all got water. It has been raining since Tuesday and this is Sunday noon and the forecast is for at least two more days of pounding-down rain which is not making them feel any better at all. I hear the anxiety in their voices. I try to comfort them with banalities like, "It canít last much longer, and weíve seen worse before." Not only am I no help, but the water in my basement stops seeping in about an hour later and some of the wet spots even start to dry up even though the rain is still slashing in torrents against my house.

I have no idea of what Iím being spared. I have to go to my class at BCís learning program for retirees which is way the hell and gone in Dover, and after leaving my house on Birch Hill Road donít run into anything that even looks like water until I get to the intersection of West Wyoming and the Lynn Fells in front of Grimsby's restaurant where I see a couple of saw horses set up in front of some very large puddles, some on the right hand side of the road others on the left. I deftly go around them like a slalom skier hitting the gates, Iíve got a green light so I proceed, no problem, up onto the road that borders Spot Pond and I continue on without delay by the Zoo and on up to the lights, green again, to the road that takes you to the entrance of Rte. 93 which is where I get my comeuppance, big time.

I am trying to get to Rte 95 South which is only about four miles or so, a five minute drive at best. Instead it takes me an hour and twenty minutes, not because of water lakes or puddles on the road, but because cars trying to exit 95 and get onto 93 are being blocked by cars trying to exit 93 and get onto 95 a situation which is exacerbated when you realize that when you finally do get onto the exit ramp off 93 it is leading you into the exact same situation when you try to get onto 95, here you will be blocked by the guys who are trying to get off 93 and onto 95. In all, a monumentally, colossal screwed-up drill all of which is happening without one puddle that any one is trying to go around.

I proceed to Dover without incident, except that Iím forty minutes late. The people who know Iím from Melrose are more than solicitous but Iím answering on the basis that itís been no big deal for me.

Coming home happens without incident, for most of the 30 miles that is, until I get to the Lynn Fells Parkway at Jerry Jingle when I look over to see that the saw horses I saw earlier are now blocking entrance to West Wyoming Avenue entirely. Iím annoyed, but things donít look too bad, so I hook a left onto the Lynn Fells and keep going, Iíll go to Johnnyís I figure, and pick up a few things for supper. Finally I approach the intersection near Morelli Field and welcome to the world, Sullivan. I am absolutely stunned at the lake that now extends down the Parkway, past the ball field, past the High School and on down to the intersection by Melrose Street.

It occurs to me if anyone described to me what Iím actually seeing now Iíd be harboring thoughts of wild exaggeration. But there it is. Itís almost 4:30 in the afternoon, Iíve driven out of and now almost back into Melrose, a trip that takes about five hours, and itís only now that I comprehend the enormity of this situation. I begin to realize what a calamity this rain must be for so many people in our city. I also realize something else, I am a very lucky guy.

June 2, 2006  

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