When it rains in Tucson, it rains HARD.
I had gone out to get groceries, hoping to beat the thunderstorm we saw coming. I figured if I timed it right, I could make it home just before the better part of the rain. If worst came to worst, I would have to drive through heavy rain but it wouldn’t be that big a deal. That was a serious mistake!
It was pouring down before I got to the grocery store – I dawdled a bit, grabbing cherries and bottled water and V-8 and Pacifico. Outside there was heavy lightning and the streets were already awash. So I took care when I started to go home, it seemed the rain was letting up a bit. I went back along roads that didn’t usually flood too badly, but car accidents forced me to detour.
As I turned onto Grant, a large thoroughfare, I noticed the water was pretty high. Cars were driving slowly and carefully. I had to detour around some other cars, forcing me to go into deeper water and then, just past the intersection, I had to stop, and then my car stalled out. Water had drenched the engine.
I sat there, water still rising, brown floodwaters passing around the car Water and mud started coming in through the doors, filling the footwells. I could feel the current shaking the car and I wondered if I’d get washed away. I set the parking brake and rolled the windows down despite the rain, in case the electrical system shorted out, so I could escape if need be. I stayed as calm as I could as I saw huge rubber garbage cans floating down the street turned river. One fetched up against my car and left a big dent and a scrape.
I wondered what I should do. Did this spell the end of everything? My ability to get around and to work? Might I be injured or killed? I remembered the test pilots and their ability to just keep “working the problem” until they got results. One thing at a time.
I decided to stay with the vehicle. For one thing, the current was too swift to walk in. I’ve heard of more than one person dying by being swept away and I didn’t want that to happen to me. I waited, watching people on the sides of the road, seeing people drive by in the centerlane where it was shallower, wondering what I’d do next. I let my partner know I was okay. My cell phone was charged so that was no problem.
Finally, I saw a fire truck pull up, close by the car, and a fireman reached down. He told me to take off my shoes so the water wouldn’t catch them and suck me into the current. I grabbed my keys and was helped up into the truck, where they took me to higher ground by a bank, not far away. I thanked them sincerely, still wondering what was going to happen next.
I stepped inside the bank and asked to use their restroom – the nice teller had been watching the whole thing. I was still wondering if my car would ever start again. I went back outside, checked in with my partner again. Soon a policeman was waving me over. “You with the silver car! I need you over here now!” I came. They told me they were going to push the car to higher ground. One Tucson police officer helped me walk across part of the street, then handed me off to his partner who took me the rest of the way so I could guard my vehicle. I thanked them, too.
I called my partner again, and she helped me get ahold of my neighbor, who came in his truck to try to help me get started. He used to be a tow truck driver. Jumping didn’t help so we went and bought a new battery. $144 later, the starter was making a louder noise but still no start. His friend came and through one thing and another we eventually towed the car home once the water had gone down.
Now I’m trying to figure out if my car will ever run again. I’m a bit numb at the moment, thinking of what I could have done differently, trying to reflect also on what I did right. I’m researching what to do if your car has been in water. One thing that was suggested is to remove the spark plugs and manually turn the engine to force water out of the cylinders. I think I’ll be trying that next. But with the money for the battery gone, it gets a little tougher, even if a small thing like spark plugs needs to be replaced.
So later I’ll try to get the water out of the engine. Then if that doesn’t work I’ll ride with my neighbor’s wife since we work in the same place on a similar schedule. I’ll be grateful for the fact that nobody is hurt and I’m back home, relatively dry, not fighting knee high floodwaters. And I’ll keep working the problem.
By the way, if anyone wants to contribute to the “dry out Rohvannyn’s car fund” they can donate via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.