Stuck at the Mall

Fifteen years ago, it would have been my dream: I'm stuck at the mall with all my credit cards. Fortunately, my drive to be a professional consumer waned with the youthful resilience of my facial skin. Yesterday I arrived at the Greenwood Park Mall, after much driving around to avoid flooded roads, and took up a seat at The Cheesecake Factory where I'd planned to meet my lifelong friend for an afternoon of window browsing and world problem solving. Shortly after said friend arrived, having gone through her own waterlogged odyssey, we were informed by our incredibly friendly and entertaining server, Andy, that a state of emergency had been declared and the police were requesting that we not leave the restaurant – or at least the immediate shopping area. Central - and particularly south central - Indiana has taken a beating for over a week now with storm after storm knocking over trees and dumping buckets of rain on our landscape.

We took a leisurely pace in enjoying our time at the restaurant and wandered through the bookstore next door. However, with each passing quarter hour, the news got worse. It started looking like I could certainly drive north to get home, but my friend would have a tougher time. We scoured maps at the bookstore and relied on cell phones to plot a course for her. In the end she took a rather out-of-the way route first north, then many miles east, then south and west for a bit and finally back north, ended a three plus hour journey. It would normally have been 30 minutes. She arrived home as the regional hospital was evacuating all patients by air and ambulance. Her electricity failed shortly after she arrived home. And, this morning the waters ceased receding just two blocks from her home.

South central Indiana is literally a disaster area. I saw a map this morning showing that state-wide 41 of our 92 counties are have officially declared disasters. I was at the northernmost tip of the devastation yesterday and was struck by the awesomeness of it. I've heard the words "catastrophic" used to describe the damage. Entire towns are deluged by broken dams. Portions of interstate highways have been washed away. My heart is breaking for the people who, when the waters rose so rapidly, got out of their homes with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. Some have no shoes even. Some got their pets out. Their cars and all they own is left behind to muddy, toxic waters. Wal-Mart Super Centers, hospital emergency rooms and municipal sewage plants are all under water.