We’ve been enduring five days of non-stop rain here in Southern California. Some communities were flooded. There was a huge landslide yesterday in a tiny town near the ocean just south of Santa Barbara. There were several fatalities and people are still missing in the rubble. A house not too far from us in the Hollywood Hills was completely destroyed. Miraculously, the father and his two children, who were inside the house when it collapsed, were safely rescued. The rain was so heavy and relentless that people everywhere were complaining of “cabin fever”. If you drove, you took your life in your hands. The skies were gun metal gray for so long that we didn’t think they would ever be sunny again.
The weather forecasters were telling us yesterday that the worst was yet to come. They told us a cold front down from the north, and the “pineapple express”, a front of warm air from the south, were due to collide at about 3:00 a.m. this morning in the L.A. Basin. The result would be more heavy downpours, high winds, thunderstorms, and possible tornados. This last storm was supposed to last until noon today.
I looked at the steep hillside which overlooks our property, as well as the humungous house that is built right out to the edge of the property that forms the top of said hill, and I thought that maybe this time we wouldn’t be so lucky. Maybe this record-breaking series of storms that had dumped over 20 inches of rain in the past two weeks would finally cause our carefully terraced hillside and all its trees and groundcover to tumble down and destroy our home.
In any event, I didn’t want to spend one more sleepless night lying awake listening to the wind howl and the hail beating against our windowpane. I suggested to Art that we spend the night in a hotel. To my surprise, he didn’t tell me I was crazy. It turns out that he wasn’t looking forward to a night of lying awake, either. So we packed up our cat, Henry, and all his gear, packed toothbrushes for ourselves, and off we went to the hotel just down the road.
You know that expression about “making lemonade out of a lemon?” Well, that’s exactly what we did. Once we had Henry settled with his food and his kitty litter, we went downstairs to the lobby and ordered a glass of wine. We took our wine up to the room with us and finished it while we watched TV. I took a hot bath and worked on the crossword puzzle. We slept like babies. The room was mercifully dark and so insolated from the weather that we didn’t even hear the rain. We woke up to see that the sun was out and the rain had stopped. We had breakfast at the hotel, then packed up Henry and our toothbrushes and came home.
When we got home, the hillside was still intact. Our home was unscathed. The terrible storm that was supposed to have lasted about nine hours had only blown through and then taken a turn to the south. So maybe we overreacted to the forecast. Maybe it was a crazy idea. And maybe it was overly extravagant. But I’m glad we did it. After all, if we had stayed in our house instead of going to the hotel, I’m sure the storm would have been all they had predicted and more! (It’s some kind of a corollary of Murphy’s Law).
Of course, the power was out when we got home, and it stayed off for several hours. But when we took our daily walk, all the neighbors were out of doors, just enjoying the sunshine. Everyone was friendly and talkative. We all knew we had dodged a bullet.
© 2005, Robin Munson