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Accepting Life

The Russian River flooding crested at 42 feet on Jan 1, 2006. My son Rob,his wife Nancy and boys Trevor and Christian (both sick now) rode it out. Their home is right in the 42 foot flood stage. They are waiting for the water to receed and power restored.

Here's what happened a few years ago.

Accepting Life on Today?s Terms

I was heading toward the phone to call my son Rob and his wife Nancy to see how they were doing. It was Tuesday morning and a television news reporter had just shown an on-site scene of the Russian River rising to flood stages. That river ran just one block from the home in Guerneville, California, where Rob, Nancy and my two-year-old grandson Trevor lived. I feared for their safety.

Before I reached the phone, it began to ring. I instinctively knew it would be Nancy.

?Dad? It?s Nancy. Rob and I need help. Fast!?

?How bad is it?? I asked, my years of training as a Fire Captain taking over. ?Is Rob there now??

?Yes, but only because I was scared. He was on call Sunday at the Fire house, but I called him home,? said Nancy. ?We?ve moved all of our valuables into the highest point of the attic,? she said, ?and we?ve taken all we could from the first floor and moved it to the second. That still may not work, though. The weather bureau and Civil Defense say that we?ve had the worst storms in this century. The river went over the predicted thirty-four foot flood stage by Monday morning.?

It was still raining?hard?with more to come. Rob and Nancy were without electricity, water or heat. Water from the river had risen through the front door to the second step. Because of the sixteen inches of rain that had already fallen, the forecast was that the river would rise to a record level of forty-eight feet. Nancy?s due date with their second child was Thursday. It was time to get out.

When Nancy called for us to come to get them, she didn?t know how they were going to get out or where they would end up. I told Nancy that I had heard on the news they were taking people out by Army Reserve helicopters. Nancy said there was absolutely no way she would get on a helicopter. They had heard that some of those already evacuated were taken to Sebastabol.

As a firefighter captain with twenty-five years service, I could have easily pushed the crisis button and experience adrenaline ?code three? action. But I had been working on accepting life on terms as it is today. My wife Harriet and I prayed a simple prayer. ?Lord keep our babies safe and take us to them.? A feeling of calm and peace came over us.
Since we didn?t know when we would catch up with our kids, we packed an overnight bag, drinks and snacks before heading out.

Many of the roads were washed out. We just kept listening to the radio notices of the roads that were still open. Surprisingly, we made good time on the normally two-and-a-half hour drive.

As we approached Sebastabol, the traffic became gridlocked. A United Postal Service truck had just pulled over from the opposite direction. The driver got out and was telling a motorist to turn left at the next intersection in order to detour around the backup.

We went about a mile down the side road and passed a firehouse. I felt they might know what was going on. We turned around and went back. Once inside, there was a fellow firefighter, Steve, who I work with in my fire department. He lives in the area and serves as a volunteer. When we told him what was going on, he said, ?I just heard on the Guerneville radio channel that they were taking a pregnant woman to the bridge by Zodiac boat, then out by helicopter.? (Right, Nancy, absolutely no way you would go out by helicopter).

We couldn?t be sure these were our kids, but we asked where these people were being taken. We were told they were going to the Sonoma County Airport. It was getting dark. The road to the airport through Santa Rosa was still open. On the chance that it might be Nancy, we headed that way.

When we got to the airport terminal, I asked an airline person if the helicopters had brought anyone in yet. She said, ?Those flights have been canceled because of darkness and lightning.?

I asked, ?Where have they taken those who were brought in??

She said, ?To the Veteran?s Hall in town.?

I asked, ?Are any of those people still there??
She said, ?Maybe.?

?Could they be at the airport fire station??

We drove around to the firehouse. As we got out of our van, a strange aura came over me. I sensed that something was going on here. When we ducked under the partially-opened rolled-up rear door, things went into slow motion. A big army sergeant turned around holding our two-year-old grandson Trevor. Our son looked up from an open duffel bag as Nancy walked in from another room. They looked like drowned rats. We just stood there in disbelief. The sergeant asked Trevor, ?Do you know these people?? Trevor answered in a high whisper, ?Yeah.? They had just arrived on the last flight in a huge Army Reserve Chinook helicopter.

There was no way any of us could have planned the events that brought us together. I believe a simple prayer activated the power of the universe that provided what we, ourselves, could not do.
A few days later, I took Rob and Nancy?s brother Jay back up to Guerneville so they could go in by boat and check the damage and start cleaning up. When they got to the house they were greeted with a surprise.

The Great California Flood waters had stopped just below a framed prayer that was hanging on the wall in their entry way. This prayer had been a gift from Harriet?s Aunt Lois and Aunt Arah Dawson from Fayetteville, North Carolina.

A week after the floods had driven them out, Rob took his family home. Two days after they settled back in, we got another call. This one was a blessing, introducing Christian Daniel Dawson Smith, seven pounds eleven ounces. Just His will.

"Coincidence is one of God?s ways of remaining anonymous."
?Doris Lessing

Nugget: Accept life on today?s terms.
How: " " " " "

From the book "Fire Up Your Communications Skills." By Fire Captain Bob More here:
This message was edited by captbob on 1-1-06 @ 5:40 PM