…until the RV park you’re happily staying at for a week is under a tornado watch, and then a tornado warning, and then a flash flood warning.
So far my second trip has been easy going and fun. Made my way into a few new states, hiked some great paths, and met up with friends- both old and new. Yesterday (November 4th) was a bit emotional around my home- Sierra, my oldest pooch, turned 11! Extra treats, walks, and snuggles were helpful to distract me from my 3rd Divorceversary. Topped the night off by meeting another couple that full-time RV, and being that we’re all from the great state of Wisconsin, we met at a bar to cheer on the Packers. Lots of fun, despite the loss.
Then today the camp host came to my RV and let me know that the front office building is the storm shelter, in case weather got too bad in the evening. I had no idea bad weather was approaching, so I thanked him, and promptly turned my attention to weather apps on my phone. Sure enough, a cold front was bringing heavy storms from 10pm-1am.
Typically, a weather report isn’t enough to rattle me. Heck, my first week of college at Florida State University (yes, I did attend there for three semesters) bands of Hurricane Katrina were lashing the campus with wind and rain, and I quickly learned that when class is canceled due to a hurricane, giant slip-and-slides are set up by students on the lawn and drunken debauchery commences. But thinking back on every place I’ve ever lived- they all had a basement. Something that I took for granted until today.
Basements are just creepy places where spiders, water heaters, and the furnace from that scene in Home Alone live. Sometimes they have the unfinished steps where someone standing under them can grab your ankles as you walk down the stairs. You know, the stuff nightmares are made of.
But in inclement weather a basement means safety.
Living in an RV is a different thing all together when it comes to bad weather. Literally yesterday I ignorantly asked someone why so many RVs got flooded in Texas. “Your home is on wheels. Just move it.” Seemed logical enough, right?
Tonight I came face-to-face with that reality. Thanks Karma.
When the local sirens went off to signal a Tornado Warning was in effect, I grabbed the dogs and both cat carriers and headed for the shelter. After an hour or so of massive down pours and wind, the warning was lifted and people started to return to their sites. From the people that stayed hunkered down (myself included) a rumor started to circulate that the creek running along the back side of the park would likely flood. I started to notice people racing around in that area of the park, hurrying to get their RVs and vehicles out of harm’s way.
“So, when do I start to pack up? Like, what’s the “go” signal so I know it’s time to move?” I politely asked the ladies at the front office.
“Site 29? I’d start packing up now, just to be safe.”
So I grabbed the cat carriers and both dogs tugging on their leashes (it’s a comical thing to witness, I promise) and we headed for my site.
Well, wouldn’t you know it? The water is already coming up over my super-cute rain boots! Up to my knees, and several inches up on my tires and jacks already.
Ok. Stay calm, Mandi. Pets and go-bag in the truck. Slides in. Stuff off counters. Unhook electric. Unhook wa- ummmm, the water hose is connected to a tap under 18 inches of water- so unhook the hose from the rig while water is spraying everywhere (it’s a flood, so who cares) and leave the hose behind. Back jacks up. Stairs up. Back the truck up to connect the RV to the hitch. Front jacks up. Connect 7 switch and break away cord.
By this point the water is higher than my knees and my boots are full. But we’re safe, and we’re getting out. After we sit in line with everyone else from the park for 25 minutes.
Alas, thanks to the help of volunteers, park staff, local fire and police, I was able to get to higher ground in the industrial park across the street. Which is where I’m parked right now, at 1:15 a.m.
The pets are great travelers, but needless to say tonight was more stressful than usual. They’re all snoring away, and I’m about to hike up to the Front Office to see if they have a plan. I will likely crawl into the RV and sleep a few hours, and decide where to stay tomorrow once the sun is up and I can collect my hose.
Lessons learned: always have a go-bag packed and ready, don’t underestimate weather warnings, and don’t wait until it’s too late to get out! I was really lucky to have taken action when I did, or else I’d be flooded right now. It’s late and I’m pretty shaken up, so I won’t even consider what that scenario looks like. I’m just glad to be safe, and my friends staying in the Nashville area are safe too.
The sun will rise soon, thanks to day light savings, and then I can spend tomorrow stressing over election results. But the light at the end of the tunnel: seeing Amy Schumer Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium! Happy early birthday to me!