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Old men and firemen to the rescue

December 13, 2010

After a long day at the office punctuated by huge thunderstorms, I was getting ready to head home this evening a little before eight as usual. My two bosses were talking loudly a mile a minute and suddenly rushed past me. They intercepted me before I made it to the elevators and said there was an emergency and word on the street had it the building was surrounded by an impenetrable moat of rain water that was quickly rising. We collected the one other guy working late from our floor and headed downstairs.

There really was a moat, only this moat had a lone elderly Israeli man in a yellow raincoat and giant galoshes holding a squeegee, standing up to his knees in the shallow end of it. He is our slightly neurotic but fantastically handy handyman in the building, and he resolutely announced that he was going to single handedly move the flood so everyone could get their cars out of the underground parking structure.

Needless to say, the elderly man did not succeed, even when he abandoned the squeegee for a large metal shovel and was literally up to his shoulders in water.

Several company cars stood stalled, flooded, and duly abandoned by owners willing to swim back to solid land. One of the few people who had brought an umbrella, I headed around to the back entrance to see what the situation was in that direction. The back alley was a gushing river, the sidewalk had disappeared, and I had a hard time avoiding ankle-deep puddles on my way back out front.

A few other older men in yellow raincoats joined the handyman to no avail. After half an hour, one of my bosses called the fire department, and within five minutes we heard their sirens and loudspeakery voices. When they arrived, the fire engine’s wheels weren’t completely covered by the street-turned-river, though all the abandoned cars were halfway underwater by that point. Between the firemen and the old men, the storm sewers were eventually opened properly, and after another torrential downpour the water level went down enough for the first brave soul to risk his car and drive into the street.

No one had ever seen anything like this before in Israel.

A coworker insisted on driving me home no matter how many times I insisted a little rain never stopped me from walking a few blocks. After all that excitement, I was home, safe and warm, only about an hour later than usual.

Last week the biggest fire the country has ever seen raged up north. This week the center (and perhaps other parts) of the country flooded. What’s next?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Christopher Cotrell permalink
    December 13, 2010 5:57 am

    What’s next? Ice storms in the South.

  2. December 14, 2010 6:53 pm

    I know I’m not supposed to laugh about the handyman with a squeegee but I did… I’m glad he and you and everyone else got out okay.

    We had a power outage for a few hours and the tap water is slightly yellow. It really was an insane storm.


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