River Evacuations and Lessons Learned

Sophie’s first time at the river!

Earlier this week, I received an email from the office of the Park where my river lot is located. The Potomac River in my West Virginia neck of the woods would crest at 25 feet on Friday night. A river alert. Not good, I thought, but not scary. Yet. I’m an experienced river woman (okay, only five years of experience), twenty-five feet is baby stuff. You just need to know how to gauge the situation and the river…and I learned that the hard way two years ago. I was alone during a river evacuation and trust me on this, I was not prepared. It was an evacuation of epic proportions and of course, it rained all day long. Monsoon rain.

I’d been at the river for a couple of rainy days working on my novel when I got a call from my co-owner. River alert and it sounded bad. She read me the email and I heard the words, “epic”, “30-35 feet”, “move to higher ground.” I imagined a wall of Hancock River water barreling towards me. She said she would find someone to help me. She was the command center for this operation and I was the grunt. I was not a happy camper, literally.

The evacuation would involve pulling our pontoon boat cum boat dock out of the water onto higher ground, followed by the wood steps, followed by our Park model camper. My co owner hired a local guy with a boat and when he arrived, I pointed at stuff and supervised. I was definitely not happy, but he seemed to know what he was doing and before I knew it, he was waving goodbye to me.

While the pontoon boat was towed upriver to the boat ramp, I ran inside the camper and tried to secure pieces of furniture, dishes, pots and pans, glassware, hurricane lamps, anything that could jostle and possibly break during the impending and unexpected move. An hour or so later, local guy drove up to the camper and gave me the victory sign. Done!

Then, my co-owner called back to tell me that a guy with a big truck was coming to pull out the camper. Her words were “a big ass camper.” That worked for me! Within minutes, our camper was hooked up and I locked the door to the camper. I drove behind our camper and watched it wobble, creak, and careen around corners. It was then that I had a real jolt of a moment – I was alone. I was a middle-aged single woman from the city who had moved to wild and wonderful West Virginia and was following the first camper she’d ever set foot in led by a total stranger. How had this all happened? Oh, yeah. I’d wanted another adventure 🙂

We’ve had several scares since that evacuation that have resulted in less than spectacular flooding or river levels that didn’t match the predictions. I’ve learned to listen to our neighbors who are far more experienced than we are, and to have thicker skin about the possibility of losing our pontoon boat, our camper and everything on our lot to the Potomac River.

So, you can imagine my emotions and feelings of dread when I received the river alert email earlier in the week about possible flooding. I watched and all week, it remained green. Last night, it turned yellow and then red. Our guy was on call.

This morning, I received a text and a photo from a friend who owns a riverfront lot up river from us telling me that our place looked good. I was so relieved! I drove out with a friend and again was reminded that with the good might come the harsh, hard and unexpected. I have thicker skin these days about potential evacuations and actually, about most potential issues and problems in my life. I trust my gut and I don’t sweat the small stuff…too much. I learned that I am level-headed in an emergency and that yes, I am a river woman 🙂

Happy weekend to you and thanks for visiting my blog.




















No evacuation, yay



Published by

Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born, Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning, historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a Finalist in the 2016 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now, and was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. She is featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is currently working on her second book, The Laments, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger, who is never without a pen, notebook, and her camera. Her wonderful adult children are doing wonderful things in the world, which allows Eleanor the blessing of writing full time. http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK Please visit Eleanor at her website: http://www.eleanorparkersapia.com

2 thoughts on “River Evacuations and Lessons Learned”

  1. Living next to a river has its dangers but it’s worth it! I’m glad your harrowing experience turned out well. Sorry for those not so fortunate!

    1. Hi Jan! Yes, it is worth it! Last night, the levels dropped dramatically and I’m glad for those folks who already have quite a clean up in the coming weeks. I will miss that place and I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t sell quickly so I can enjoy one more season 🙂 Thanks for your visit and for commenting! I always enjoy seeing you!

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