It had been raining all day and around noon I heard a weather forecast telling us that there would be 2 to 4 inches of rain today. It had been a mostly constant, but light rain with sporadic hard, toad strangling rains all day. Now we have a neighbor coming to tell us that our bridge is overflowing with water and it looks like it might come into his house.
Lee went to check and came back to tell me to get dressed and to come help. He took the tractor and I followed with the truck and some tools. We have had problems with our creek rushing down the hill from the Blue Ridge Parkway and bringing all sorts of downed limbs, trees, leaves and old fencing. The bridge over the creek to our house is a large concrete structure with giant conduits to allow the water to flow under it. Unfortunately, when the rains are severe, the debris can block the holes and the water can be diverted else where.
In addition to our bridge diverting water to the road, there was a rushing torrent on the side of the road in front of our neighbor's house. He was rightly concerned that the amount and the force of the water posed a potential risk to his new house. We have been through this drill before. The difference this time is that the new road we had just put in to replace the other new road we had put in was better engineered and so our drive was intact.
I started with a rake. It was full dark but the tractor lights and the truck lights helped. The lights weren't able to bend over the side of the bridge, so it was hard to see what I was doing. All I could do is reach out with the rake and try to snag a branch or a log and pull it out. I frequently had to bend way over the reach it and pull. The more logs I pulled up the faster the water would run under the bridge and clear any loose material. It was kind of like the game of pick-up stix. You had to try to grab what you could and hope for the best.
I also had to be careful not to fall in. That would be bad. If you were lucky you would be washed through the hole. If you were unlucky you would be washed PART WAY through the hole. (Ooooh. Had to stop and take a big breath. It reminds me of something my mother used to say about the old TV show with Lloyd Bridges, Sea Hunt. She said she couldn't watch it because it gave her asthma. I think watching people get their air hoses cut did it to her! Hey, they are on DVD now. Check it out. )
While I was risking life and limb, Lee was using the front scoop on the tractor to get what he could. He would push at whatever was blocking the holes and try to get it to go through or at least to raise up where we could grab hold of a branch. There were a LOT of huge , long branches and logs. There were a few that we were able to get a chain around and then had the bucket of the tractor pull it out. They were also water logged adding to the weight. Lee then took them to the side of the drive where I was piling the logs I had pulled out.
There were a few that we couldn't get close enough to wrap the chain. Once again I bemoaned the fact that we didn't have a grappling hook. I have looked for some online, but the are too pricey. Maybe Lee can make one with the welder! So I developed a technique of wrapping one end of the chain around the tines of the rake. Then I lowered it down and let the slack go around a log. Lee would grab the hook end and attach it to the chain. Then we would wrap the other hook end to the bucket on the tractor. With a few false starts we were able to get most of the logs away from blocking the holes under our bridge.
When we started out I had a jacket and a slicker over my clothes and a ball cap for my head. By the time we were through I had discarded the slicker and the jacket. It was still raining, but it was in the sixties and too warm to be so covered up when working hard. By the end of the job, I was soaked and tired. Too tired to pay attention. I walked towards Lee when he was moving one of the last logs. He started to lower the bucket, thereby lowering the log to the driveway. With the ball cap on I couldn't see over my head and Lee was watching the log. So I walked into the tractor bucket at the same time Lee was lowering it. My mistake. It could have been worse, I could have been dead, but I still have a sore spot on my head to remind me to be careful around heavy equipment.
On the way back up the hill Lee said that he bet I was mad that I couldn't blog about this. He was right. The whole time we worked there I was wishing I could get some pictures. It was too dark for my puny little camera. We went down this morning and I got some pictures of the stream running through, but that doesn't begin to show the raging torrent we had last night with the water washing over the bridge and out to the road.