Years ago, I attended a rather raucous Columbus Dispatch party at a German Village apartment — oh, stab me in the heart now! — which was hosted, in part, by a sportswriter. About 3/4 through the festivities, it occurred to me that the host had a big day tomorrow — the Memorial Tournament was in full swing.
“Don’t worry about him,” someone said. “Golf is a sport made for hungover reporters. All you have to do is make it to the press room, and everything takes care of itself. Every hole is on closed-circuit TV, the staff brings you individual score sheets, they even bring the golfers in so you can interview them. There’s even food. You never have to leave.”
In time, I’ve come to think of Fort Wayne’s floods as my own personal Memorial Tournament. I’ve covered enough now that I could do it from the newsroom, using the city street department as legmen. Tell me which streets are closed, which neighborhoods are evacuating, where sandbags are being placed, and I can close my eyes and see it all. I even know lots of the flooded-out residents’ names, having read them or interviewed them myself so many times.
So we’re having a flood this week. It’s my last Fort Wayne flood (I think — you never know), and this time I’m seeing it from the perspective of an editor, wondering how many ways we can think of to explain the reality of a flood, which pretty much relies on several very simple concepts:
1) Water seeks the lowest place.
2) Water has to go somewhere.
3) Flooding occurs when the usual places — rivers, streams — fill up.
That’s pretty basic. And yet, year after year, we write thousands of words covering the what (see No. 1), the where (No. 2) and, worst of all, the why (No. 3). But that’s our job, I guess.
Anyway, even though I can see it all in my head, I felt obligated to gaze upon it with my own eyes one last time. I went down to the park (closed) and took the public road around it (open, at least most of its length), drove as far as I could without becoming a gawk-block menace, parked and got out to gaze upon the mighty rushing St. Marys.
Yep, that’s a flood, all right, I thought.
Now it’s time to move.