I sit here on Thursday, day five of “The Flood” and listen to it rain yet again. The Current River is slowly receding from the record 33.13 ft it crested at on Monday, May 1. Needless to say it has been a crazy week.
Saturday we were told that the river would reach around 23 feet, we woke up Sunday morning with the levels jumping to 29, then 36, then 40 feet. The record for the Current River in Doniphan was back in 1904 when it crested at 26.8. I of course was not a live then, but I vaguely remember the flood of 1982 when it crested at 25.49 (which was the second highest to date). Of course living on the river you know that it floods, that water rises when there is a lot of rain, and that there is always the possibility of the need of evacuation. In 2007 I went to work for E&S Pharmacy and worked for them until 2013. The initial location where I was hired to work was in the flood plan (if it was a moderate to major flood); the building flooded twice during my time with them. The river flooded three times and we evacuated twice, the third time in 2011 was the charm that had the company moving to higher ground and we relocated the facility to a hill in the middle of town.
Sunday, what was to be my only day off this week (was supposed to work Mon-Sat this week, but due to flooding in Arkansas I did not work today in Paragould); I woke to the phone tree message that morning service would be cancelled due to flooding, but to stay tuned for further information concerning the 6:00 pm service. As the day continued, the rain continued, and the river continued to rise. All services ended up being cancelled due to flooding. My dad and I spent the day driving around town watching the river rise (with all of Ripley county I think). The ‘go to spot’ was Town & Country parking lot where you could watch the river rise at the bridge that was forecasted to be closed (which it was around 7:00 pm).
Doniphan lost phone and cell service, there were a lot of areas that lost power, West Doniphan lost access to town because the bridge was closed, and emergency personnel (who’s job is to help and save people) lost access to individuals that needed help due to no access to them becuse the bridge was closed or high water. Needless to say the stress and frustration of trying to do a job you have dedicated yourself to with the limited resources and inability to do it to the fullest, was making life difficult.
Working Monday, May 1, at the hospital trying to perform transfers of patients and continue with daily tasks that require internet, fax, and phone services was interesting…when you had non of them. We had one phone (the doctor’s phone, that happened to have Verizon wireless — which still worked), and later we bought burner phones that worked off the Verizon network and had those available around 5:00 pm. It made for an interesting day trying to make people understand that I was unable to fax them information, but I needed them to please take my patient. :)
One bonus of the flood is that it accomplished something that has been tried several times throughout the years and never really made progress…getting people out and moving (exercising). There has been the Get Moving campaign, the GO Walk campaign, and several other programs started to try and get residents to exercise. The flood had the whole county out walking, taking pictures, enjoying nature and the outdoors. It apparently takes a catastrophe to get people out and about.
On Monday evening the water started receding from the town, where approximately 35 businesses have been affected and lost everything, leaving behind a sludge of dirt, mud, and “stuff”. We have pulled together as a community and several groups and individuals have started activities to help clean the area and assist the individuals that have lost everything. The bonus of living in a small community is that we don’t have to wait for the Federal Government to step in and give assistance, we assist each other. We have had the Convoy of Hope that brought relief items in, and individuals from our community has donated items to the relief project. I love living in a place where people come first.
We’ve lost some of our main eating places and I will miss being able to stop at Casey’s for breakfast or at Sonic for dinner on my way in/out of town. But I know that as a community we will rebuild and come back stronger and better than before. It will be a process and may take awhile…but we will succeed. As the logo that is being placed on shirts designed by Pam Davis states, we’re “Current River Strong”. The river has a powerful current, and as it continues to flow and go so will the residents of Ripley County.