when you catch the nightly news and you’re watching a weather disaster, thoughts of horror probably come over you.
they are matched with sadness and many other emotions. but you’re still sipping your coffee and then maybe you flip off the TV and go to work. after all, what can you do but pray and think about the atrocity. been there, done that. i get it.
on monday night i was one of those people you may have seen on the nightly news. on second thought, maybe not. after all i was completely shocked how little this tragedy made headlines. i don’t think the world cares about detroit. this is another atrocity. i don’t get it. simply the scariest night of my entire life.
so i wake up on a typical monday morning, get in my brand new 2014 chevy impala which is totally bad ass and head to work. normal so far. i like my music loud, so it’s pumping, my coffee is steaming in the cup holder next to me. i park in the garage at one detroit center, jump into “work mode” and do my thing. we’re on the 19th floor of an incredible building and have the best view of the river and detroit. normal so far.
flash flood, i mean, forward to heading home. had to leave a little earlier than normal but i had gotten in nice and early so i didn’t feel bad about it. it was raining out but no big deal. normal so far.
got in the car and headed out on interstate 75 pointed north. it was coming down pretty hard but nothing at all unusual. however, two hours later when I’ve only moved about 10 miles out of the city – not so normal. while waiting in the horrible traffic, i go on to Facebook and look to see where my work buds are and one of them posts “do not go on the freeway, massive flooding, cars being routed off”. not normal. what? i was smushed in between three semi’s and to my right, i see cars going THE OPPOSITE WAY on the shoulder. i flip a couple of posts past the first and see another shot of water up to the windows of a car, people getting out of their cars to which the post reads “horrible flooding – this has what has held us up in traffic for 4 hours!” now i realize all this was happening right in front of me.
i’m a stranger to flooding. honestly, it has been the least scariest natural disaster to me. this is out of complete ignorance. tornados – i’m all over them. i know where to hide. earthquakes, been in them. scary, yet. flooding – who can’t deal with a little extra water?! i can swim! so this is my mindset up until this point. this is where i’m coming from.
right now, my pulse is raised but only at the horrendous thought of exiting the freeway at an unknown point. this is detroit after all. second only to flint having the most murders per capita. some of you reading this have absolutely no clue what bad is- and that’s good. but this isn’t a couple of blocks of nasty houses. we’re talking miles and miles of blown out houses turned into drug havens. i’m not going to belabor this because i believe in the good of detroit rather than the bad. but let’s just say i never – ever – wanted to -ever- get off interstate 75 early. not here. i start to see the underpass and the cars under water and i reluctantly motion to the semi next to me to please let me and my little car over… i need to get off the interstate.
it was so amazing how little communication was going on. the news sucks here. sorry. it does. robert was watching it for me and there was very little warning out there on what was going on. he said to me “be careful – i’m real worried about you getting off the highway.” i told him i was going to call on star and will talk to him soon.
i was in a shitty area. it was now about 8:30pm and getting darker. i was exiting 75 and had on star on the car system with me. i love them. one lady stayed on the phone with me two hours past her shift had finished. she tried really hard to get me home. but there was absolutely no way. i was on low gas and every way i turned in this god forbidden area was flooded.
i’m not going to lie. i was absolutely terrified. i thought that i was headed in a good direction on a side road to 75 when suddenly there was a barricade and i had to turn around. i weaved through some awful neighborhoods until i got to a main street… 8 mile.
8 mile at 75 is two lanes exiting and then three lanes merging from the bridge that went over 75. all 5 lanes came together in water that came up to the top of my tires. when it was my turn to follow the car in front of me, i had to weave up on the sidewalk between a burnt out brothel and a dead street light. my heart was pounding through my chest. my hands were sweaty and i started to pray out loud. i don’t pray because it’s the in thing to do – i pray because i believe in God and He can make stuff happen. fyi. research that.
i was on with my on star rep who was seriously ready to get home and get her drink on. as i merged into the flood, I now knew why i should fear floods. if i were to stall out, i would be stuck with no police, no husband, no one to help me. all night. i put my credit cards and license in my bra and hid a credit card in the back pocket of the car. smart, right? as i go through the water, car after car is stalling out but not me. i got through the water and made it to the other side. that is where i breathed a huge sigh of relief. even if i was on 8 mile in the #2 murder capital of the world. just head west to woodward, i said to myself out loud. i live off woodward. Lord, get me there! it’s only a mile down 8 mile. so i excitedly go down 8 mile and right into a road block. woodward is closed. 75 is closed. i’m trapped on 8 mile and it’s now 10:30 at night.
<commercial break. get a glass of wine. take a sip. I am. >
i go to a gas station and get gas (thank you God!) and introduce myself to another scared-to-death girl in her 20’s. we were all over the place! wide-eyed, mascara smudged faces looking around with our eyebrows raised and don’t-mess-with-me pretend faces. i asked her if she was stranded and she said that she was trying to get to lavonia. i didn’t even know where that was. she tells me that the nice man in front of her is showing her the way out of 8 mile and pointed in the right direction. i was afraid to be alone so i asked if i can follow (mistake #1) and she said sure. so we all headed out on 8 mile and turned right on a street called john r (mistake #2). i thought 8 mile was bad. after all eminem sang about 8 mile and produced a movie on how bad it was. but john r was worse! now, i was on a side street that was unlit, a bunch of warehouses and a ton of stranded cars strewn all over the street. there were scary crackheads hanging out on corners too. it was a long wait and by this point, i’ve clued in that typically means there is a flood area up ahead. AM I IN HELL? ROF was on the phone with me and he told me to stop driving around that i was going to get stuck and that would be the worse thing that could happen to me. so I turned around, left my friends, and headed back the same way to 8 mile. my home base.
when i got to 8 mile, i could now only go right which meant – i had to go the wrong way down 8 mile, go over 75, turn around and go through THE HUGE ASS FLOODED AREA AGAIN! excuse my french.
i’ll spare you the commentary. it was now 11:30pm. but i’ll just throw out some words/thoughts:
“ you ain’t gonna make it across, you gotta cross the median. you ain’t gonna do that with your impala. oh now wait, you got 20’s – give it a shot”
“amy, go park somewhere, you are going to get stuck.”
i made it through the huge flood area now – water up to the middle of my drivers side door. i don’t know how, but i made it. i drove straight to my favorite citgo gas stations sandwiched in between a strip bar and a cool restaurant called SOUL FOOD. thank god, i never got kicked out of the citgo parking lot because i stayed there for 2 more hours. i met a really nice indian woman and her friend she had picked up from the airport. she had come in from india. WELCOME TO DETROIT! she was going to 12 mile and woodward – near me – and she said “we are scared to death, can we follow you?” i said sure. after all, i do have all the answers.
i’ve been in the car for over 7 hours at this point. no bathroom, no water, no food, no wine (mistake #3, always carry emergency wine) ROF urged me to go to the strip club and have a drink but he was just joking. i think. my friend from india- gina – and i just parked close to each other and hung out while thug after thug got gas. we even watched one tinkle between the two cars. real nice. i had my foot on the break, my hand on the shift and my mirrors positioned to see any funny business. it was now 1:45 in the morning. rollin’ with my homies.
this was my breaking point. i had called 911 because we were stranded and they said some words i’m sure they didn’t mean but were stressed out. this whole time i had only seen 2 cops. but i looked on google maps and saw i could take a side street to 9 mile, turn left and hit woodward and then go 110 mph home. so i called on star because they are my very best friends at this point. i did think it was cute that they would say “i will call the authorities if anything happens to you” it was reassuring but this is detroit, honey, ain’t nobody got time for that!
so i rolled down my window and told gina and her friend to follow me, we were going home. she said OK. i told her to KEEP UP. she said OK. we headed down a side street which was obviously flooded out earlier because cars were strewn all over and on top of each other. we made it to 9 mile but it looked like a war zone! semi trucks were pulled over one by one along the side and cars were all over the place -stranded. gina wasn’t keeping up and i thought for a split second to blow her off but couldn’t. it was 2am. i was shaking at the anticipation of getting home.
i pulled into a gas station and let gina catch up. i rolled down the window and asked her to please step on it. she said OK. so we weaved down 9 mile together until we got to a sign that made me cry: WOODWARD AVE!
gina wanted to turn the wrong way, so i waved her down and together we headed down the now open woodward together. as she turned off at 12 mile, she called me. we had exchanged numbers. “ i just want to tell you that i would have never gotten through tonight without you.” sure you would have! “no really, i wouldn’t have. i would be asleep at the citgo on 8 mile!” we both laughed. i told her she was a comfort to me too and we said goodbye. i thanked God for putting an angel with me for the night.
i have this night on my mind a lot. i think i will for a while. i’ve written in previous posts how much i like to be jolted out of my comfort zone. this was a good jolt. after all, the day started off so normal! but what should i learn from this? what is normal?? you never, ever know what can happen in a matter of minutes let alone hours.
appreciate everything you have now. cuz tomorrow may not be the same.