We spent Sunday afternoon in Baltimore at the annual Brew at the Zoo event, where the biggest challenge we faced was that Jason packed up our cooler full of fancy cheeses and crackers but no knives. After a futile search among the food vendors for a plastic knife, Jason said he had a plan and asked if I was willing to eat a corn dog.
WHAT KIND OF QUESTION EVEN IS THAT, I ASK YOU.
I quickly purchased and consumed a corn dog and BAM. We had a handy-dandy spreading stick for our fancy cheese.
(Twenty years in August, folks!)
There was rain in the forecast so I figured we'd have to bail on the early side, while Jason stubbornly refused to acknowledge the slowly swirling dark clouds overhead.
"I think they're moving away from us," he insisted, as the wind picked up and blew away our crackers.
"I think it's going to miss us," he said, as it started to rain.
"No, really, I bet this will pass in a minute," he predicted, as we huddled under a small tent with 400 other people who all called for an Uber at the exact same moment, and I watched my shoes disappear into a mud puddle.
It did not pass, it did not miss us. And all our joking back-and-forth ended on the ride home, as we watched rain come down in rapid, violent sheets.
The same way it did two years ago.
"I'm worried about the downtown," Jason finally admitted.
"Meeeeee too," I replied.
Sure enough, by the time we got home the videos were cropping up on social media and my in-laws were texting because the cable news stations had picked them up. Look. Again. Flooding, destruction, floating cars and the entire contents of stores and restaurants gushing down the street. There goes the iconic clock, a historic cottage, giant chunks of the street and sidewalks that we'd just been walking on the day before. When the town's near-miraculous recovery had simply become a given, albeit still a big source of local pride and #ECSTRONG hashtags and no small amount of merchandise.
Just like that, we're back at devastation square one.
The kids are absolutely heartbroken, as am I. What about the vintage toy stores, the Lego train, the comic book shop? Ezra wanted to know about his new favorite restaurant. That chef already swears he'll rebuild again, while the owner of the wine store that hosts the monthly Yappy Hours has admitted it's doubtful they'll be able to come back from this one. I have a list of birthday gift requests from Ike that I doubt I'll be able to fulfill now, as all the stores are closed, and most of the items were likely washed down into the river.
These are all minor inconveniences, of course. Residents are displaced, historic homes and businesses are destroyed, and a National Guardsman is missing.
A once-in-a-1,000 year flood, coming once again, just two years after the last once-in-a-1,000-year flood.
Our backyard is muddy and we lost a few tree branches, but we're fine. (Mostly because our neighborhood is part of the problem, part of a decades-long rush to develop the area without proper drainage planning.) We're hoping to volunteer soon and help out, once things stabilize a bit. (Though I had to stop Jason from trying to go down there to help out on Sunday evening, when he hit the Helplessness Wall after sitting at home watching the destruction unfold on his phone screen.)
For now, the county's volunteer sites have all crashed from the demand, donations are reportedly pouring in, and the local benefits and fundraisers have already started. We'll be at as many as we can, and hopefully we'll be allowed back downtown soon to help out with some shovels and work gloves and beers.
But we know it might be tougher this time to convince other people to help and give, and that yes, this old little town is worth saving. Still. Again.