Tuesday 16 November 2021

That time the road disappeared

I drive carefully on the deserted road, my windshield wipers working furiously, barely keeping up. I haven't seen rain that fierce since I moved away from the wet coast 5 years ago, and I didn't miss it. Yet here we are, and it's terrifying. I keep an eye on the raging river on my right side, shocked by how much it has swelled in just a few hours. 

Earlier that day I was driving along the other way, and while the river was high (way higher than it should be, or ever has been this time of year), I still wasn't worried.
But now I am. There's water lapping onto the road, which, btw, is a highway. I know it's not a highway in the conventional sense, meaning it's only one lane each way, and so windy that reasonable drivers (like me) rarely go faster than 60 km/h. But still, it's classified as a highway. 
And right now, there's fucking water lapping onto it. 


I keep going, because we humans seem to be programmed that way. Even though everything I'm seeing screams at me to turn away right now, I don't. Some inane optimist (or a part that wants to kill itself?) gently jostles me along. Honestly, I have lost control at this point. I just go along for the ride, curious to see what happens next. 

What happens next is so terrifying that my brain can't compute. Before I know what's going on, I've passed by it, and only after do I start shaking. 

You wanna know what I just did?

That top picture? That's what I just drove over. The rail is gone, half the road is gone, and the other half has a GIANT CRACK IN IT. 
And you know what I do? I put my car in park, get out and TAKE FUCKING PICTURES. 

Honestly, I'm appalled at myself. I have enough sense (=fear) to not get very close to the broken-off part of the road, because it does freak me out big time. 
But I snap a few quick pics, and then I get back into my car and drive on, trying to ignore the now deafeningly-loud voice inside my head screaming at me that I HAVE TO TURN BACK, because I know that there are worse parts ahead of me.

Well. I don't listen to the voice (I'm in complete denial now), but then I encounter this:

Half the road is completely flooded, the other half is covered in drift wood. You know what my first thought is upon encountering this? 
"Maybe I can just move the debris to the side and drive through..?"
Fortunately, that truck on the other side belongs to a highway employee, and he tells me in no uncertain terms to TURN THE HELL BACK WHILE I CAN.

I listen to him. And on the way back, I'm starting to really freak out about having to cross the half-ripped off part of the road again. Even though it's been barely 15 minutes since I nonchalantly drove over it like no big deal, now I have vivid images of tumbling down into the raging waters, never to surface again. So I do what I always do when I freak out: I call Rich. 

"I have to drive back over the broken-off bit, and I'm scared!!" I wail, with no need to elaborate because I've kept him up-to-date on my progress so thoroughly that my phone is down to 24% battery, something that usually never happens to me. 
"Can you stay with me until I'm past it?" I beg, and he agrees. 

"It's coming up!" I yell. 
"Nope, not yet, sorry," a moment later. 
"I'll stay with you the entire time," he promises calmly. 

A minute later, I really do see the ominous crack in the road ahead of me. Did it get bigger? I think it did. 

It certainly seems about 100 times scarier than it did just a little while ago. 

I take a deep breath, and then squeeze my car as close to the rock face as I can. My passenger side mirror is scraping the side of the wall, which tells me this is as far as I can go to the side. 
The only way I have left now is straight through. 

"I'm going across it now!" I yell at Rich, and then, with both hands gripping the steering wheel in a death grip, I drive across. 
"Aaaaaahhhhhhh!!" I scream, and then it's over.

I made it. I'm across it, and with tears streaming down my face, I drive on, shaking violently. 
"Are you past the dangerous bit?" Rich yells, and I nod numbly, before realizing that he can't see me. 
"Yes, I am. I'm safe," I say. 

Then I remember that I have to cross two more small bridges and one big one before I'm on "our" side, and nothing feels safe now. "Can you stay on the phone until I've crossed the bridges?" I ask him, and he does. 

I make it home. 
But I was right to be scared. 

Here is the highway (or lack thereof) two days later:
Images source

A lot of bridges got damaged on that terrible November 15:
I cross that bridge several times a week on my dog walks. 

My friend's grandma lives on the other side of this bridge. They have no way out right now. 

One of the bridges in Merritt. None of them are deemed safe right now. 

We have driven this highway hundreds of times over the last 20 years. Now it may be down for months. 

Fraser Canyon. We've driven that one dozens of times as well, never imaging that it could be swept away one day. 

I made it home safe. Our family is safe. 
But so many others aren't. It was a game of chance, with some of us getting lucky, others getting unlucky.
It's so insane, unfair, chaotic, unbelievable. 
We are still reeling from the flood, and Merritt is unrecognizable. It's evacuated, flooded, water unusable, sewage not working since being flooded early on Nov 15, hospital shut down. 
We are in suspense right now, not knowing what's gonna happen next. 

I'm lucky to be above the flood, and probably lucky to be alive. 



  1. So glad to hear you that you are home safe. Somebody was looking out for you that day! My heart goes out to all affected by the disasters. Take care!

    1. Thank you! I was so lucky. Still can't believe the extent of the destruction, it's massive. Many highways will be closed for months, maybe even years,and we don't even know yet how bad people's houses are. It's unbelievable and awful.


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