It wasn’t Houston, but…

Delaine and I suffer from “October Terror” because last October, we challenged Mother Nature.  She kicked our behinds and dared us to tangle with her again.

We had tickets for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC.  After an awesome time there, we prepared to return home.  Because we knew that the remnants of a hurricane were lurking around, we prudently monitored the Weather Chanel while in DC, and we called a friend back home who assured us that it was safe to return to South Carolina.

Our trip was uneventful until we reached the Welcome Center near the North Carolina state line.  It started raining, but big deal.  Who hasn’t driven on the interstate while it’s raining?  Continuing south, we were eventually diverted off the interstate. Surely this was just a minor inconvenience or better, a little adventure, we thought.

We were wrong – almost dead wrong.  Why was water rushing across front yards like an angry monster?  Why was it rudely invading the shoulders of the road and boldly marching across the highway, right in our lane? Were we witnessing that meteorological term called a flash flood?

I was driving, and I could still see the white and yellow highway markings.  There was a pick-up truck a few football field lengths in front of us. So ignoring all warnings I had ever heard about driving on flooded roads, I followed that truck.

Wait! Wait! Wait! Something was terribly wrong. That truck suddenly stopped. Water was violently rushing across the road. What was that driver going to do?  Delaine called on the name of the Father.  I was scared, but being the older sister, I tried to remain silent to hide my fear. My cover was blown when I looked to my left and spotted what looked like a raging whirlpool. Apparently, a section of the road had washed away. That whirlpool was hungry to devour us and our Accord.

I backed up and took refuge in the parking lot of a church which was on higher ground. We contemplated remaining there all night, but with daylight still available, we eventually started inching our way back toward civilization.

Totally unfamiliar with the backroads, we became lost, scared and in danger.

Finally, we reached the outskirts of a small town, but a huge tree had fallen, blocking our path. Firefighters were already on the scene with power saws, cutting away its limbs.

When we reached another little town with a McDonald’s, a Subway, and a Pizza Hut, we thought we were safe. We were hungry and ready for a rest stop, but my wise sister said, “No, let’s get gas first.”

I followed her instructions. The only vehicles at that gas station were emergency and tree cutting vehicles.

After filling our tank, we found that McDonald’s, Subway and Pizza Hut were all closed. And the mom and pop stores had no running water.

We weren’t that far from Cheraw, where we have relatives, so we decided to follow the signs and make it to Cheraw on back roads. Yet again, we were blocked by closed roads.

It was getting dark. We didn’t know what to do.  I-95 South was blocked between Lumberton and Florence, so we reversed course and took I-95 North.

There were no motel vacancies.

In desperation, Delaine politely asked if we could spend the night in the lobby of a motel. The staff graciously consented.  Things were looking better to us. We were off the scary roads; the motel was relatively new; the staff was very kind; we had snacks; and other stranded travelers were camped out in the lobby, too.

But we weren’t home, yet, and our adventure was not over.

To be continued.

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