First Sentence Friday! Chapter Three

I’ve already mentioned parts of THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET have some historic fact, and it was the flood in western North Carolina in 1940 that became the launch point for my story.

A flood is something I’ve only recently become a little more intimately familiar with.  Hurricane Matthew, just last year in October of 2016, was an event where I actually experienced the effects of something like twelve inches of rain in a twenty-four hour period.  A total of thirty-nine people died, twenty of them from North Carolina.

In the picture below, if you look to the left about mid-way down where it says North Carolina in the middle of a county, (you might have to click on it) the right hand side of that county shows areas where it goes from purple to white.  That’s about where I live.  By this chart, it measures eight to ten inches of rain, but the local weather forecasters were able to get even more precise than this, and showed various rainfall inches town by town.  I remember looking at my husband, astonished when it showed “twelve point something,” in our area.  I hope to never see that sort of rain again – although we had another heavy rain event in late April that flooded our cellar.  (silly us, we forgot the sump pumps were unplugged for the winter)

What does one do when there’s no power?  You drive around looking.  Here are some photos I took while out on the hunt for coffee.  There were no stores were open.  No electricity for days. (trees on power lines = not helpful)

Well, that explains it.

Damage in the ‘hood.

Flooded Black River, about a mile and half from my house.

Oops. Don’t think I’m supposed to be on I-95, at least not in this direction, but I’m sure glad I ain’t going the other way either. (The Great Hunt For Coffee Caper, 2016)

We were lucky in that we had a generator, and could use our coffeepot, turn on a few lights, and we even had TV.  Somehow, people make do, even if those things are not available to them.  And, there are the random acts of kindness with strangers who take chain saws in the back of their trucks and drive around to see if they can help clean up an elderly person’s yard.  Or they’ll let someone else go in front of them in line, because their small children don’t understand why their world has suddenly changed.  (I overheard a three year old ask their mother time and again, “but, why can’t I watch TV?)  As a friend said recently, in more or less words, he’d rather be in an area that’s flat when it floods.  A hurricane dumps a lot of rain, as Cat 1 Matthew proved, creating a lot of devastation.

I mean, forget the wind, sometimes it’s…the water.

It goes without saying, heavy amounts of rain rushing down a mountain and into the creeks, streams and rivers causes them to rise fast – fast, really fast.  The storms swept over land already saturated from the previous event, so it didn’t take long for things to get out of hand.  Bridges were washed out along with roads, and railroad tracks.  The trains that normally brought in staples and food weren’t able to run.  The flood water washed away businesses, houses, and people.

What it couldn’t take was the steadfast resolve of those who lived through it, or, as the book cover’s tagline suggests, their courage. 



The truck shifted like it might start moving again and we clambered onto the small, cramped roof, driven by the relentless rise of water in the back.


A Publishers Lunch BUZZ BOOK Fall/Winter 2017, and a SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) Trio Pick for 2018, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET releases December 26th, 2017.  

***I’m using #FirstSentenceFridays on Twitter and tagging @Kensington Publishing Corporation.  Follow along and tweet out/share if you’d like!***






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