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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

EVACUATED!

Not from the tornado that hit, not from a hurricane. Just freaky.

4 p.m... Exbf was mowing the front yard and weed eating the shameful mess my yard had become. He told me there was a police car and a fire truck at the other end of the block. Naturally, I walked down to see what was happening. The intersection was blocked by fire trucks, police cars, and orange cones.

"Gas leak report."

5 p.m....Okay, I came home after we left to do a chore and stop for produce for the hens. When we got to the corner to turn to my house, we were stopped by huge orange cones and a policeman and told NO we could not go back into the house. Wait four to six hours and come back. !!!

evacfronthouse
Standing in front of my house. This pic was cropped to make the other end of the block a little larger and show the other end of the block. My driveway is in lower, right corner. Looking south.
Exbf told the policeman he was from Birmingham and was ready to go home and asked if he could get his car from in front of my house and leave. He was only 15 feet from the corner where we were standing. We had parked on the side street and were walking to my house when we were accosted.
"But, YOU cannot go back in." He was not kidding when he said this to me.

Rats, I thought fast and told the truth. "The oven is on and the food in there is done, ready to burn.
"Okay, right in and right out. Okay?" I needed a bit of time. "I will be out in ten minutes."

"No, you cannot take that long. You can come back in 4-6 hours. Hurry!"

I was dressed in sweaty, stained work clothing. And, I was hungry. And, what about the hens? My mind was racing. We hurried in. I told exbf to grab a box. He brought one to the kitchen. I grabbed the baking bag his eight lamb chops were in and placed it in the box along with four beautiful baked potatoes and a plastic bag with floured green tomatoes, ready to be fried in a bit of oil. I asked exbf if he thought he could fry them. He said yes, grabbed his box, his clean clothes and stood there in a sweaty funk while I grabbed things.

"Cheese, chicken breast, bologna, bread, glass of milk, water, coke, toothbrush." (loaf of bread, chunk of cheese, package of bologna..everything in package) I did this aloud and grabbed the clean clothes I wore earlier and snatched them on. Whew.....Okay, I have to pee even if we blow sky high.

So, we left. It was sort of sad seeing all the food just disappear and me being left with bologna. The plan was to wrap each of the seven lamb chops in foil, stick them in the freezer in a freezer bag, wrap the other sweet potatoes and fry the green tomatoes. He would eat a lamb chop, a sweet potato and all the fried green tomatoes here. The cooled lamb chops and sweet potatoes would go home with him.

Even though I would not touch lamb if I were dying, hate fried green tomatoes just as much, and was only going to eat a small sweet potato, I still felt food-lonely and hungry. All the people in this neighborhood are wealthy, have relatives here, or could afford a warm meal and a motel if necessary.

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Street behind my house. Flame is in front of truck. Looking south.
When I drove to the other side of the evacuated area, I saw flames 10 feet high! They had to burn off the propane from an underground gas tank. Those are not allowed in the city, under or on top of the ground. They guys said it was very old. Someone said that they were trying to remove the tank and realized it was cracked. What? They did not check to see if there were gas first? I would have called the fire department to purge the tank and oversee the efforts of removal. They will do that.
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The flame is in the middle of the picture about two-thirds up. I am three blocks away. Flame is little yellow mark on trees. Looking east.
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Closer view. See the flame in front of the truck in the distance?

Suddenly, I realized I did not have my laptop and the phone and camera were dying. I came back home, parked on the side street behind the retaining wall and all the greenery, sneaked up into my yard at the corner, went quickly under some low trees and disappeared on the far side of the house where the chickens were. The water hose was on, so I had to go into the basement to turn if off. Back in the yard, I felt like a criminal. Hurriedly I went up the steps and inside, I packed a bag with laptop, cord, camera cord, phone charger and left the same way. No one came to yell at me or arrest me. But, if this had become a blazing inferno, no one would have looked for me.

I got to the car. My blood sugar was dropping fast, so I gulped the glass of milk I had poured into Tupperware. Then, I went to the grocery store, rode in the electric cart to get cool while I ate a free cookie and felt sorry for myself. I had $0.37 in the bank and $0.31 in my pocket.

Books-A-Million is a lonely place to be in the state of mind I was in. My hens were the problem now. I hoped I could sneak back or Fancy would not die. I hate to say it, but it would kill me if she died, but I could accept the death of either Thelma or Louise.

In an anxious state, I decided to drive by and see what was happening. No, not in the evacuated area. A policeman turned his blue lights on after I sort of made a u-turn, clipped a curb and bounced off. S%^t! I motioned did he want me and he motioned to stay there. He jumped out of his car. We were both sitting in traffic, not on the side of the road. He asked my address, checked a list and told me I could go home now.

As I came to the corner to get into my street, the cones were still there. Not wanting to get in trouble, I just stood there. A 911 vehicle came through the cones and stopped to talk to me. He told me to go home and then walk to the command center at the other end of the block and tell them my address. He said that way they would know who was in homes if something happened.

I did. They were all in a good mood, kidding around with me. I was told to go home and shelter in place, not to mow the yard. Oh, yeah, with a 10 foot flame nearby, I will start up the lawnmower...NOT. Besides, I no longer mow.


Pictures I took approaching and before leaving the corner and walking to the other end of the block and as I approached home. Exciting stuff...lol.
evaccornerwendy
Turn right behind fire truck and flame is on other end of block. My house is other end of this block, behind me.
evaccornerflame
At the corner, looking to the street like I had turned right behind the firetruck in the picture above. Can you see the flame? To the left of truck on the right in the far distance. The fire hose is connected and laid. See it in the street to the left.

evacflameclose


The picture above shows the flame best--6-10 feet high. I left some of the lesser shots to give you an idea of the street, proximity to me, houses affected. Somehow, the gas is coming through a metal base, not sure how. So, the flame appears to be shooting up above ground level. I just drove down there (11pm) where the flame was earlier, and there is a huge hole in the yard.
evacfireman
Serious stuff. Camera on wrong setting.

evacfireand rescue

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More vehicles on the corner
evacmycar
Now this is where I have my back to the command center at the other corner and am walking home. I cropped the picture and only my yard that desperately needs grass shows instead of all the other yards. If you look at the foliage behind my car, you are looking at the retaining wall. Picture my car backed up until it was out of sight, that is where I parked to sneak home and get the laptop.

I went under the Yoshino Cherry and into the darkness and cover of the bushes and house. The hens are on the retaining wall side of the house. I went behind the house and to the side door to get in.
This has  been an altogether anxiety-filled evening. Oh, there was also an ambulance with the other vehicles. And, this was not the only spot with emergency vehicles.  Okay, two pictures just disappeared as I came back to edit one thing. What is with blogger?

Your turn
Have you had this much excitement and stress today?

6 comments:

  1. In a word... No!

    How the hell does someone start to remove a gas cylinder without checking whether it is empty or not! Unbelievable - miracle noone was hurt or the whole street blown to smithereens

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  2. Wow that is really bad. Sounds like you guys were pretty lucky in this whole ordeal.

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  3. I'm glad that it was found out before something bigger happened and I hope the person removing it gets a sound kick in the butt too. A couple of them actually. How stupid.
    I'm glad that you got to go home and no, my life is stressful but not like that! Wishing you well and sending calming vibes your way.

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  4. Furtheron, I know. This is the kind of thing that ends badly, making national news when houses and people are blown to smithereens. i AM going to check around and find the whole story.

    Coley, I do feel lucky.

    LindaM, I am all for fining these people.

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  5. I felt for you Linda, as when the floods hit us a few days later I managed to make it into town, but was warned the police might barracade the range off when I wanted to come back in.

    They were right, they did and I when I handed them my license to demonstrate I was a local resident, the policeman said, "I don't know this area". It was a new demarkation our Council decided to re-zone a few years ago, not many people would know.

    Thankfully, he took my word for it but all I could think was THE CHICKENS - I HAVE TO GET HOME TO THE CHICKENS!!! It's funny how we realise what's important to us, when there's a threat we may not be able to return home.

    Glad you (and the chickens ;) are safe all round though. :)

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  6. Chris, Yes, the chickens were my first thought. This is the first time I have ever been evacuated. I was the house fartherest from the burning gas or I never would have been allowed back in the house for a minute. Plus, the exbf saying he just wanted to get in his car and go home helped. THEN, he did come in, not what he said he was going to do. Well, he did want those 8 lambchops. I'm glad to know someone else wanted to go for the chickens.You make me feel better, not so nutty to worry about chickens. I'm glad you got back in.

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