Monday, 26 August 2013
By Jackie Harrison
The alarm awakened me at 8AM on Monday morning, not my usual hour to wake up. I am a late sleeper. My kids know this. That's why they gave me a night shirt with a big moose on the front that said, "I Don't Do Mornings.”
But this morning I promised to take a friend to the doctor's office since he could not drive his car. It was a beautiful, sunny Florida morning with blue skies and fluffy, white clouds.
The visit to the doctor's office was short. My friend wanted to repay me by taking me to lunch at Mike's Galley, a local hangout where we know everyone. I ordered my usual, the California Mix, and conversed with all the tattooed waitresses.
Quite unexpectedly while we were eating, a monstrous storm came up. Lightning was flashing everywhere. Thunder clapped and roared and rain poured down in buckets.
It didn't last long, however. We only had to remain inside a short time after finishing our lunch. There was only a fine little drizzle of rain when we entered my car.
I cranked up my car and headed for AIA, the highway along the beach. As I was about to enter the highway, I noticed cars splashing water all over the place up to their car windows. I told my friend, "I am going to get off this street as soon as possible to avoid all this water and take the first side street."
I turned right onto Sea Spray Boulevard. There was a huge moving van parked along the side preventing me from seeing around it but since no cars were coming, I decided I would have no problem passing it. Little did I know what was facing me.
I have lived in this area since 1959, through hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning storms, you name it, but what I encountered would never have occurred to me in my wildest dream.
My car ran straight into a three-foot flash flood. The motor conked out immediately. I tried to start my car but it would not start.
It was hot as blazes with the steam coming up from the previously scorching street. The windows would not open. The water was creeping into the floor board of the car. The doors would not open. A very large city garbage can with wheels floated by. A big SUV sped through, splashing more water on us.
I was thankful that I had my cell phone to call AAA. They said it would probably be 45 minutes to one hour before they could come. I told them I had a bad respiratory problem so they said they would place me on their priority list.
I don't remember how long we sat there in the sweltering heat when two guys on foot suddenly appeared. They took off their shoes, rolled up their pants and came to the car asking if they could push us out of the water. What a godsend!
Even though it was extremely hot and humid, it was wonderful to get out of the car where I could breathe fresh air.
When we tried to pay the guys for rescuing us, they refused to accept it. One of the men said he saw us from his condominium on AIA on the 15th floor and knew we were in trouble. His friend happened to live on the corner of Sea Spray Boulevard. They were both from Poland.
The neighbor across the street came out to see what was happening. She was an older lady who had lived in her house with her husband for many years. By then I needed to use a bathroom and she was kind enough to let this stranger use hers.
The AAA truck arrived. The driver thought he could start my engine but he could not. He ordered a tow truck and was kind enough to take my friend to his house, which was not too far away.
vThis young AAA driver told me I could sit in his air-conditioned truck until the tow truck arrived unless he got a call. I was so grateful that I gave him a tip in spite of his protest.
The tow truck towed me to the service dealership. I learned a lesson from the driver: Never try to re-start your car when it conks out in water. He said it would ruin the engine. It blew a hole in mine and my car was declared totaled.
It is now hurricane season in Florida. I have a new car. I will be fearful from now on of any water on the roads, even a small puddle.
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