|»Vivek Kaul's Diary|
A More Terrifying Enemy on Our Ranch in Argentina
23 FEBRUARY 2017
I went down Virginia, seeking shelter from the storm. - Creedence Clearwater Revival
BALTIMORE - We rushed down to Virginia last week with the sound of an angel band playing in the background.
Mother was on her last breath...ready to give up the ghost at any minute.
But she surprised us again.
'Am I dead yet?' she asked, regaining consciousness.
'No...not yet,' we replied.
Not only was she not dead, she was also very much alive. Unable to move...breathing only with the help of an oxygen concentrator...and eating nothing but Jell-O, she was nevertheless sharp and irrepressibly pleasant.
So we go on with our lives...knowing the phone could ring at any minute.
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Last year, the ranch got only about 2.3 inches of rain.
This year, so far, we have gotten about 4 inches. And the rainy season is over. There is little likelihood of any further rain in the Calchaquí Valleys this year.
Cometh this word from our lawyer:
The last major drought hit more than thirty years ago. Then, with nowhere to take the cows and no way to get them there, more than 2,000 head died on our ranch.
Now we seem to be approaching another bovine holocaust.
We are headed down there at the end of next month. In the meantime, ojalá que llueva - we hope to God for a freak rainstorm.
Nature can be fearsome. Sometimes, it refuses to rain. Other times, it won't stop.
A brother-in-law described a disaster in the Appalachians.
'We were building a new church,' he began in his soft southern accent while we were vising Mother in Virginia.
'We didn't know how we could afford the big stained-glass window over the altar. But when we dedicated it to the victims of The Flood, the money just rolled in.'
In Nelson County, Virginia, 'The Flood' does not refer to the inundation in which Noah saved humanity.
It recalls the wall of water that came down the Tye, Rockfish, Hardware, and James rivers, washing away dozens of houses, cars, trees, and boulders...and swamping others under 20 feet of mud.
'It was terrible,' our brother-in-law, a retired preacher, continued. 'It was Hurricane Camille. We knew it was going to rain. But we had no warning about what would happen.
'When we dedicated the window, we had one of the survivors come and talk to the congregation. She described how she was in her house in the middle of the night when suddenly water came through the door.
'It rose so fast that she and her daughter had no chance to get away. The last she saw of her daughter, who was 16 years old at the time, she was on top of a refrigerator that was floating in the living room.
'The mother survived, she told us, by just floating on the tide of water down the river. She said she just put her faith in God...and said, "God, do with me what you want." Then she grabbed hold of a tree and stayed there.
'She was still up in the tree, naked - all of her clothes had been stripped away by the force of the water - when rescuers heard her calling the next day.
'Other people weren't so lucky. Her daughter's body was never found.
'And there was a blind boy who lived down in the little town. His father took him up the hill - it was the middle of the night - and told him to stay there holding on to a tree.
'The father went back into town to try to help other people trapped in their houses. The boy survived. The father was never seen again.'
The eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains got 27 inches of rain on the night of August 19, 1969. In all, some 150 people died.
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