White Rock Festival Disaster
Last year (in 2008) at the White Rock Festival my wife and I joked about this event being cursed, because someone downwind from us failed to attach their tent to the ground, and when the wind picked up that afternoon, their tent lifted up off the ground, sailed 20 feet into the air and landed on our tent, breaking it. We laughed it off.
This year, the annual White Rock Festival opened yesterday morning. After setting up our booth, I returned home while Erica manned the booth with our dog, Maria. I was wrapping up the creation of some new props for two demonstrations I had engineered to help people understand the need for our services.
About lunch time I returned to the festival, bringing the new props and arrived just as an ominous black cloud seemed to be racing toward us across the lake. I found a parking spot, just as the sky let loose with a fury seldom seen. When I stepped out of the car, only a minute or two into the deluge, there was already 2 inches of water on the ground completing soaking my shoes and socks, while so much rain was coming down from above it was like being wet down by a fire hose.
And then all hell broke loose!
It was a classic microburst, the kind that can destroy a 747 attempting to land. Lighting seemed to strike everywhere at once continuously and the thunder was deafening. The hurricane-like winds shrieked, tents were shredding faster than anyone could take them down. Trash cans and papers were blowing and festival attendees were running for shelter. Meanwhile all the vendors were holding on for dear life under their tents, while the wind picked them up off the ground or just shredded the canvas above them. Within a couple of minutes, nothing was dry.
The storm caught EVERYONE by surprise. The danger of electrocution was real, both from lightning and from numerous power cords laying under water. No one had time to evacuate whatever goods they had intended to sell at the festival, so no one was able to simply evacuate, since the wind would have picked up everything and flung it across the landscape.
"I decided it was NOT our time to die, so took charge over the storm, raced for the car, threw open the gate, got our SUV next to our site, threw open the doors and hatch and in the midst of this amazing freak microburst, I pile-drove everything into Erica's SUV within as few seconds as possible—Maria, Erica, equipment, folding chairs, display materials, table cloths, two tables, banner, banner poles, tent canvas, metal tent structure, with gallons of water running off everything."
I ran back to our SUV pulled open the fence and drove down to our booth where I manhandled all our materials into the SUV with a intensity that was only matched by the fury of the weather. The reason: my wife was standing in water under a 65 foot tree, holding onto the metal ribs of our tent, and the danger of death by lightning was severe. So into the SUV I shoved everythign, wet as it was. Nothing was folded or boxed up properly, it all just went IN as if God himself had commanded it as the rain continued to pound down upon us.
When we got home a little while later, stunned and wet, we strung out everything in the garage and our covered porch to dry. Amazing how soaked everything had become. There was not one single dry article.
The next day, I returned to the scene of the crime to survey the aftermath. And perhaps to capture a haunting reminder of the power of nature. The entire grounds of the festival were still half submerged under the lake—even a day later. Shows how much water fell in only a few minutes.
UPDATE 8/22/17: Our poor dog Maria was with us at the festival and luckily Erica had her in a kennel otherwise she would have bolted. Her eyes were white orbs of terror due to the lightning and thunder all around. It is now 8 years later. Maria is in her old age and still being lovingly doted on and cared for. But ever since that day she's becomes frightened and trembles whenever a storm approaches. Poor thing.
The sign says, "Free Face Painting." Add to that, "FREE tent shredding on behalf of the weather."
Other tents quickly buckled under the weight of water caught in their ripped up covers.
None escaped the deluge, even larger vendors like Terrelli's (above) were innundated.
Gives new meaning to the phrase, "dining on the water."
Enjoy lunch from your table in the lake.
Marble Slab Creamery got a new ice cream flavor: "White Rock Lake Water"
For the Love of the Lake was shin deep in the Lake of their Love.
Powerlines were underwater all over the place.
Tents on the front edge of the weather were instantly shredded or skeletonized.
Perhaps next year we will bring flippers and snorkle.
Under the big tree in the background was where our tent was, not a good place to be in a lightning storm while you are standing in water and holding onto metal. Even the pony ride and petting zoo in the background was underwater.
Imagine, for a moment, a beautiful day. Suddenly, rain has become a horizontal waterfall propelled at 50 mph in your face. You batten down the hatches and lower your tent as far as possible, and are then crouching down, holding onto the metal structure—METAL—with both arms while buffets violently in the wind, your body weight being the only thing keep it from launching into the sky. Meanwhile, you are standing ankle-deep in water, lightning CRASHING in your immediate vicinity with unrelenting roars. I actually saw lightning strike the lake not far away. Even Maria's kennel was floating under the table. I decided it was NOT our time to die, so took charge over the storm, raced for the car, threw open the gate, got our SUV next to our site, threw open the doors and hatch and in the midst of this amazing freak microburst, I pile-drove everything into Erica's SUV within as few seconds as possible—Maria, Erica, equipment, folding chairs, display materials, table cloths, two tables, banner, banner poles, tent canvas, metal tent structure, with gallons of water running off everything. And suddenly, we were leaving while everyone else was still standing out there in harms way wondering what do do. What you do in an emergency is you rise above it, take charge and get your people and (if possible) your property out of harms way.
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