Apr 10, 2011

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise

     Last month much of the Northeast US got hit with some really nasty floods.  Major causes included heavy rains and a particularly high amount of snowmelt.  In our neighborhood of Westwood, New Jersey we had an interesting additional factor.
     Many of the houses on my block, including mine, are situated in a flood zone.  There is a creek running behind the houses that will often overflow with heavy rain.  It's not unusual for one or several homes to get water in their backyards every once in a while.  The real damage occurs when United Water, which operates the Woodcliff Lake reservoir, decides to open their flood gates to protect their facilities.  The sudden surge of water will often, as was the case on March 7-8, send water flowing through yards and into houses.
     Usually homes in the affected areas will get a flood warning or a reverse 9-1-1 call when these situations are anticipated, but this evening there was little to no warning.  Luckily I was still awake in my basement-level bedroom around 2:30am, when I noticed water coming under the doors.  Had I been asleep at a reasonable hour I likely would have awoken to a nasty wet surprise.  I immediately began moving valuables upstairs and waking the rest of the family.  From there we were racing against the continuously rising water to save anything salvageable.  By the time the sun rose the water had finally begun to recede.
     One of my first instincts was to grab my camera and start taking pictures -- mostly for insurance purposes.  But before long I realized there was a story unfolding as firefighters showed up on the scene to assist people trapped in houses, neighbors began helping each other, and reporters arrived with the sunlight to interview fatigued residents in their soaked pajamas.  I decided to capture as much of the ordeal as possible while being very much part of the story myself.
I was glad I remembered this tip one of my photojournalism professors taught us for shooting in the rain: Wrap your camera in a zip-lock bag, cut a hole for the lens, and wrap everything in a rubber band.  Thanks, Professor Lippincott!
     I narrowed my pictures down to what I hope is a cohesive photo story, although I'm sure I missed some important shots while I was busy trying to save my Goosebumps books and guitar amps from flood water.

1 comment:

  1. What is United Water's response to this? There was barely any rain this Saturday evening to cause flooding. I grew up on Harding and my mother still lives there. In the past, there were years between floods now there are weeks. It is unacceptable.