You can see the fear in their eyes from a mile away. They have that
smell of fear about them as they make four- hundred-dollar trips to Costco twice
a week. They have an irrational fear of running out of toilet paper. You
know who they are. The first-timers. The newbies. They just moved to
Snoqualmie Valley, and it’s their first flood season.
They are an easy mark. Their cell phones have the road conditions
on speed dial. Their computers boot up to the King County Web page.
KIRO radio is on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They have
reviewed their kids’ emergency procedure so many times, the kids know
it better than they do their own names.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the locals torment them mercilessly.
I guess I can understand the fun your average framer and farmer, who
work in the rain, have pulling the leg of a high techie. But I do think it is
cruel to keep referring to Noah and his ark at every opportunity. Harping on
the fact that we have had two “hundred-year” floods in the last decade
isn’t really nice either.
The local news and weather service don’t help at all. They consider
it their duty to feed the apprehension. At the first sign that the rainy season
is upon us, there are at least forty news crews up at the Falls getting that
“boy, there sure is a lot of water” shot.
I swear they could use the same shot year after year and no one would
ever know the difference. Then the helicopters start to fly. Not one, but three.
Up and down the Valley looking for the first place one of the rivers
breaches its bank. I keep waiting for Robin Williams to shout “Good
Morning, Viet Nam!”
Then the fun starts. The roads start to close. Here in the Lower
Valley, there are no surprises when Tolt Hill and 124th (Novelty flats) close.
You may think twice when Carnation Farm closes. It’s when Highway 203
starts closing between Fall City and Carnation and then between Duvall
and Monroe that the real fun begins. Now is the time to head to the store.
It is tradition at the first sight of the rivers rising that everyone in
the Valley strips the local stores. I never quite understood why the stores
look looted after an hour, when all anyone seems to buy is milk, bread and
beer. What else to you need? There are the highbrows in the neighborhood
that buy wine and Twinkies, but who is buying up all of the frozen food?
What good is that when the power goes out? But I digress …
After looting the local market, everyone prays for three things. That
all your loved ones get across the bridge before it closes, that no one who
lives in the flats loses his livelihood or his home, and that Duvall bridge
closes and we get a free holiday.
I know this is selfish, but when our neighborhood becomes an island, it
is kind of fun. No school, no work, let’s all go for a walk. Visit the neighbors.
Hang out. Kind of like a “get out of responsibility” free card. Just don’t
tell the new guys. It would ruin the fun.
Kate Russell lives between
Carnation and Duvall. You can reach her at Katemo1@msn.com