The rivers provided the large amounts of water that was needed.
—Georgia, by Elmer D. Williams
Lurlene called all her educators and said we had the day off. Bridges were out and so were a lot of streets. It’s rained that hard for so long.
I asked her what she was going to do with her free day and she said she was going to cook something. I imagine Old Burrell was going to do a lot of the eating.
They’re already calling it the Great Georgia Flood. It hasn’t been great for a whole lot of people.
I was watching TV and the 81st governor of Georgia said he’d really like for everybody who doesn’t need to go out to stay inside and be safe. Later, a local TV reporter interviewed one of those good ol’ boys who work our roads and the good ol' boy said we’d really appreciate it if you folks would stay home and quit gawking and poking around and let us do our jobs.
I walked down a road near where I live and asked the good ol’ boy who works the roads for the city if I could walk down the road and look at the bridge. He had his city truck and some orange cones and some yellow tape blocking off the road.
He said I don’t care.
Some woman comes rolling up and she didn’t know the roads real good and he tells her the best directions to get where she’s going and she looked a little freaked out as she drove off.
The good ol’ boy says to me these people come down these roads all the time and when they have to go some other way it just bowggles their minds. He threw his hands in the air.
Pays to know your area I said. I was puffing on a delicious cigar.
He said the water was bubbling up through the bridge. About three or four in the morning he said it was over the bridge but it’s just right under the bridge now. He moaned we’re probably going to be here all night. He looked like he needed a cold can of beer.
I walked down the road. The road crosses over a big stream coming out of a north Georgia lake. I looked at a map a while back because I wanted to know the stream’s genesis. The big stream is called Big Creek, and it’s a tributary to the Chattahoochee River that eventually flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The sun was coming out finally, and mixed with the humidity I felt my neck and face begin to burn. I was thinking that detoured woman should buy a map and get to know the local scene. I told my little historians while I was teaching them some geography at the first of the year that the moment you look at one of those maps you get from the gas station you get all intimidated and you shouldn’t be. Maps are made to help you. Maps are full of information. You couldn’t run a war if you didn’t have maps, I told them. Cartography. It ain’t for nerds. Understanding maps is James Bond cool.
You know it’s been a bad rain when you see so many dead frogs. I saw a lot of them along the side of the road. The air smells different after a flood. I got to the bridge and they had put some asphalt in the cracks in the road surface of the bridge. You could easily mush the asphalt with your shoe and you could smell that fresh asphalt smell.
This was dangerous water. Orange, rushing, angry water. It made strange noises. It was so high it altered all your memories about what the area used to look like. I go over this bridge at least four times a day. A huge, amber colored ant was trotting across the bridge on top of the guard rail, going eastbound. Taking the highest road. The amber ant sparkled in the sun.
I started walking back home. Next to the road and through the woods is a nice private golf course. I used to play it a lot. I walked up through the woods and onto a concrete cart path and saw another altered landscape. The fairway of the fifth hole of the course was under water, all the way from the men’s tees to the green. It’s a par 5. The orange water wasn’t still. It was flowing, but it was strangely quiet here, on the golf course. A hawk circled overhead. I called my best friend, who I used to play golf with on this course a million times, and left him a voice mail message. I said ... You would not believe what I’m looking at right now.
I get back up to the road block and a guy in one of those huge pick-up trucks comes rolling up.
He gets told the detour deal by the city road worker.
Then the guy in the pick-up truck says something I haven’t heard in a long time. And you could tell the guy meant it, too. You could tell he wasn’t making fun of the two rednecks standing there sweating and breathing cigar smoke by some warning cones and flapping caution tape.
The guy says in a real loud southern accent, Dad gum … then guns his diesel-sucking monster and roars off.
The South ain’t dead, Dixie. It’s rising. And it’s orange.
Next Entry ... November 2: A Teacher In A Hot Seat