The altitude of my home town is a mountainous 12 feet. Yep, you read that right twelve lowly feet is the average. Not that I am a great mathematician but if the average is 12 feet, that must mean that there are a lot of areas that are much lower. As a result of this closeness to sea level, rain water can create a significant set of challenges… and wonderful opportunities for the young!
I remember many a Sunday afternoon standing on my grandmothers porch on Broad Street, watching those heavy downpours, overflow the gutter. The water would spill over onto the sidewalk and make its way up to the bottom step on the porch.. and then it would come up to the second step.. and if we were lucky… the third! Once the rains stopped, out into the worlds largest swimming pool we would go! It never got deep enough to swim in but we did have fun playing with toy boats and just generally walking up and down the street splashing as much as we could as we went…. and it was the best when a car would come flying down the street!
It didn’t take much for Elizabeth Street by the old Elizabeth City High School to flood. It seems like very time there was something more than just a passing shower, that area would be completely underwater.
As I got older and started driving, the fun disappeared in a hurry. When I was working at Coastal Office Equipment located out at the end of Main St. and Hughes Blvd, a major part of my job was to keep the water out of the front door during heavy rain… I would stand inside the door with a mop and try to catch the water as it came in under the door. Not exactly one of my favorite activities. And driving around town was like driving and obstacle course… We all knew where the streets would flood and so the traffic on all the streets that didn’t flood would be a lot heavier than normal…
But still, ever once in a while I would drive down the flooded streets… and see kids out playing… and I would just have to drive fast and send waves of water cascading down on them. I would look in my rear view mirror at them jumping up and down and laughing… and I would just have to smile myself….. remembering what a blast it was!