Rising against the flood waters

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By Stephen Lega

May 2 was supposed to be a special day for the Bradys. Karen and Chris's oldest daughter, Kayla, 8, was making her First Communion at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church. The Bradys log cabin, located off Hwy. 208, behind the former Calvary Store, had been decorated for a party after the big event.

But instead of celebrating Kayla's big day, the Bradys got a lesson in what it means to be part of a small community.

As rain poured onto the county, the creek near their home started to rise. Karen was concerned, but she said her husband initially assured her the water wouldn't get to the cabin. He'd grown up on that property, after all, and he'd never seen the water get that high.

"When it came over the road, we were no longer battling the creek," Karen said. "we were battling the river."

Several guests called to say they wouldn't be able to make it due to the road conditions, and most of the guests who came left early as the roads got worse. The Communion party only lasted about a half-hour, according to Karen.

As the water continued to rise, the Bradys called a friend, Rhonda Bland, who took their kids, Kayla and Christina, 6, to safe, dryer ground.

The Bradys eventually called some friends - Mike Wathen, Kevin Bland, Terry "Moonie" Graves and George Caldwell - to help them. What happened was their friends, neighbors and friends of their friends arrived with an army of trucks and trailers. Karen said Barkley Courtwright took charge and organized the effort to move as much of the Bradys' stuff out of the cabin as possible.

"It was a free-for-all that night," Karen said. "I didn't even know some of the people."

The stuff they couldn't move, they tried to put up on tables and counters. Eventually, Karen and Chris left as well, staying with family in Loretto.

"My husband said, 'I feel like I've been though a war,'" Karen said, recalling their conversation as they were driving. "I said I felt like I'd been on the Titanic."

The worst part about that night for Karen was there wasn't any way she could reach her children. She did call them and talk to them, however.

Chris Brady said the flooding was unbelievable.

"It makes you realize how many friends you have," he said.

In the days after the flooding, the Bradys stuff was returned and they have been cleaning up as much as possible, running dehumidifiers around the clock. Again, friends, family, neighbors and co-workers have helped out.

Although they are facing thousands of dollars in damage to their basement, a barn and workshop, Karen said she feels fortunate because she knows it could have been much worse.

She added that she feels bad for Kayla, since May 2 was supposed to be memorable, if only for a different reason.

"It'll be a First Communion she'll never forget," Karen said.