Get outta Dodge
Thursday March 21st 2013, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

How did I not know this?!

Okay, we need Muddy Waters playing a soundtrack in the background as I type this.

In all the conversations across all the years, and even with the worries of the San Bruno pipeline that blew up up north running within a few hundred feet of our house (they dug up around the corner here after the explosion at the other end). When the water main broke in ’08 on suddenly-perfectly-named River Road at the back of the neighborhood I grew up in in Maryland, in front of the side street friends of mine still live on, creating such a whitewater that people on their way to work and school had to be rescued from their cars by helicopter. All those times.

He never mentioned it.

Or maybe he did years and years and even more years ago (I mean, I’ve known the guy since I was about a week old) but he just never really described it and it didn’t sink in for me?

I told him this morning that my friend Robin had had to go the long away around on an errand because of another water main near River, and that there had been a big break yesterday on Connecticut Avenue, too.

Which runs alongside his old neighborhood.

“Did it make a big hole in the ground?” Something about the way he asked that sounded odd: there was a sudden tightness in his voice.

“A huge hole!”

“Yeah, they do that.” He sounded like he knew, no, really knew, which had me looking quizzical, and that, finally, is how his story  came out.

He had been a teenager, running errands with the family car that day; everybody parallel parks on the steep hill that is his folks’ old street, there are only a few driveways on the other, flatter side, none, theirs. Turn the wheels to the curb at 10007 and walk up the steep steps to the door.

He noticed some utility workers. Top of the street, bottom of the street, with his folks’ house about halfway down. Turns out there was a water leak somewhere and they were trying to find it.

Turns out it was under his car.

Turns out the jackhammer, when they tried there, simply fell downwards–not through and vanishing, but, there was nothing for it to hammer against. They sent a rod down in the spot and swished it around: no resistance.

There was no there there anymore.

“I was right there!” And sending vibrations and pressure down again and again as he’d driven in and out, parked and pulled out and parked, oblivious.

And so that area was cleared out, everybody thanked their lucky stars nobody had fallen through the sinkhole from the water erosion, and it was a huge mess to have a giant hole where the street had been till it could all be fixed.  But everybody was safe.

Thank heavens for those Maryland utility workers who were aware of the sensors or whatever it was that had tipped them off and that they followed up on it.

(Edited to add: After Don and Debbie wondered, I asked, and Richard says they asked him to move the car so they could test there–and then went holy cow, and got everybody to move their cars out of there.  They had been testing for eight hours at that point and it had been gushing hard under the surface for at least a day and there was just nothing left underneath.)

5 Comments so far
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I just got chills!

Comment by Jody 03.22.13 @ 5:30 am

Wow. Chills here too.

Comment by Channon 03.22.13 @ 7:44 am

I gather that his car war swallowed. Sounds like the street needed some Pepto Bismol.

Comment by Don Meyer 03.22.13 @ 9:32 am

Oh. My. As the mind whirls with the “if only…..” I’m a bit confused if the car was there, and lost. Or if he and the car were coming back to the street and saw them drilling where the car had been. At any rate, thank goodness he was out!

Comment by DebbieR 03.22.13 @ 12:56 pm

I just heard an NPR program talking about sinkholes the underground rivers that appear. Scary. And awesome, in the true sense of the word.

Comment by twinsetellen 03.22.13 @ 4:05 pm

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