I haven't blogged for a while and wanted to tell you why.
A catastrophe in our community happened in the last week. I would like to tell you about it as to how our farm has been affected. I decided to divide it into 3 parts. We are still living it and hopefully the final phase will be Part 3.
We have had lots of rain for about 5 days with heavy winds. It was stressful because of the winds, several trees on our back farmland went down. When the sun came out for a couple days, we had all our fruit trees pruned, by a wonderful man with a "man lift" for the first time ever, saving us time we felt we lost due to all the bad weather.
Then we had another 4+ days of wind and rain, so unusual for our area. Frank and I didn't think much about it, other than the normal farming setbacks. We had decided to start re-vamping the front living room since we were forced to be inside.
During this time, I had tried to start walking in the mornings and hooked up with a friend downtown to keep motivated. We walked 2 days starting our new commitment to try and walk even if it was raining. Sunday was going to be just like any other day on our farm.
Sunday, February 12, 2017 I had a customer stop by the house early to pick up an early Valentine's Day arrangement. My kitchen area was covered with flowers and necessary items to make a number of pre-ordered Valentine's Day flowers to be made and delivered on Tuesday.
It was a lovely warm day so I contacted my friend about walking early in the am. She texted back that she and her family had left the area due to the possibility of flooding. What!!!! We live near the Feather River so I thought she meant she was worried about the Feather River flooding and was over-reacting.
I mentioned this to Frank, but we both seemed unconcerned and went out to the orchard to start chipping all the pruned limbs that were on the ground. We worked late morning to early afternoon chipping and came into the house to have a late lunch.
Frank went to the local Mac's Market hardware store to pick something up he needed.
When he returned, he said: "We need to evacuate!!" The dam is getting ready to break. "We need to evacuate and have 30 minutes to grab what we need and leave for high ground."
I had signed up previously for emergency notices on my cell phone and just then, I received the notice to evacuate. Frank had been talking to people at the hardware store and they had received a call from a friend who worked on the dam and he was notifying as many people as he could to leave. Minutes later the Dept. of Water Resources and Butte County Sheriff's Office called for the immediate evacuation to Oroville, Biggs, Gridley and later included Marysville to evacuate with surrounding low lying areas such as Yuba City to evacuation at your discretion.
What do you decide to do if you have a 30 minute notice to leave your home, your farm, your life? What do you decide to take?
I can tell you, our minds were not functioning. We were in shock. We did not have any emergency plan. I kept saying over and over out load: Oh My God!! Oh My God! The Dam is Breaking???? The Dam is Breaking??? The dogs knew something was wrong, every direction I took, and I was running around, basically doing nothing, they were in my way.
I can tell you what I did take: A bag with some pants, tops, a jacket, a pair of shoes. Tooth brush, brush, my eye meds, Advil, Vick's (???), my rings, my purse, my phone and cord; my tablet without the cord.
What I forgot was: no under garments; no cords; no pajamas; no sweater; no blankets; no towels or face cloths; nothing of value; nothing sentimental.; nothing I cherished.
What I did do before leaving: I let all the chicken out, I figured they could at least get up in the trees. I got the dog's leashes. We turned a few lights on (were worried about looting). Frank said he would lock the doors, he locked his shop and packed his cloths and got his personal items together such as medications, glasses, etc. We texted a few local friends that we thought did not use social media or cell phones. We texted our daughter who was in returning from a weekend in the Bay Area.
What we didn't do: Left the front door open. Left about 5 windows open. Frank left the cord to his computer and cell phone. We left the keys in the ignition of truck. The garage that has farm equipment was left open. Forgot to bring any food, water or dog food. No personal paperwork, no credit cards, Left my Day Planner with all contact information (yes I still use them even though I use my phone, it has all addresses). We didn't check the heater to see if still on. We wondered if we should have shut off the main electrical and gas lines.
With leaving, a last look at our house and farm thinking it may be the last we ever see it as it was that day. Crying and scared, we loaded the dogs, the few items we took and drove out the gate thinking life will never be the same for our little town of Gridley with the Oroville Dam ready to break.
200,000 people having been told to leave immediately, where do you go? What road do you take? Do you have fuel in your car?
Part Two will be: Heading out of Town.