Calontiris in Jeopardy Due to Torrential Rains

SCA members journeying to and from the Tournament of Valor in the Barony of Vataviaon found themselves in jeopardy Saturday as torrential rains flooded the Kansas Turnpike. Over 8 inches of rain pounded Wichita, Kansas (USA) on August 30, causing a late cancellation of the Barony of Vataviaon's Tournament of Valor. Unfortunately the word did not reach many people, who found themselves driving on flooded highways.

Lady Gabrielle wrote about her experiences on the Calontir list:

We just walked back in our house this second. We were only about 25 yards back from the cars that washed away on the turnpike last night (just north of mile marker 116) by only about 25 yards. We sat and watched the water level climb to the very edge of the road and no way to get away if it had continued any higher (other than getting out and walking up the hill).

If we hadn't missed the turn to get out of the park when leaving the site and had to circle back (maybe 10-15 minutes turning around with the trailer and getting back to the park exit) we would have been in the flood! We sat for over two hours until they brought in a wrecker/crane and moved several of the highway dividers and routed most people back to the south. Unfortunately, while sitting in the deluge, the water added to much weight to our trailer and it blew one of the tires...so we crippled our rig through the gap and just enough up the hill on the southbound side away from the washed out area that it wouldn't be gone when we came back. As we turned onto the southbound side we saw a large dark blue sedan (like a Cadillac or Lincoln) sitting sideways blocking both southbound lanes and a large huge chunk of the highway caved in under one wheel. There were about three other cars to the inside of the northbound lanes all shoved together in a jumble against the highway dividers.

When Andor got back in the van after taking the trailer wheel off, our van wouldn't start! So he had to walk down and get one of the officers to give us a jump start. We finally got out of there and drove back south to Cassoday and wound our way up 177 to 50 and into Emporia where we found a hotel (got there about 2:00 AM). This morning Andor bought a new tire at the Wal-Mart...we headed back down the turnpike 10 miles to where only one lane was being allowed through both directions and they had the helicopter and ATV's out searching the area. Got pictures of all that. We saw a blue car (like an Accord) upside down off down in the gully on it's roof and smashed. From what people at the front of the line of cars told Andor the night before, when he walked up to see what was going on, they said probably at least six cars washed away.

While Andor was changing the tire on the trailer this morning, we could see how high the water had gotten and it was unbelievable! The area where we sat for two hours and the water just at the edge of the road it had been at least 10 to 15 feet deep, and the police told us the water was as high as six feet deep where it washed across the road at it's lowest point.

The people at Valor were awesome and they did their best to make us feel welcome. On the up side, we met some great people, got to sit and visit for just a bit, watched some fighting and archery. But for us, the whole weekend was a Greek tragedy, with one calamity after another. Fortune did smile on us that we didn't get washed away, we were able to find a replacement tire, and it limped us back to BFS in one piece. Now the task of setting up our pavilion in the yard and washing off the mud and leaves and hoping the sun will come out within a day or two and dry it. We feel truly fortunate to have gotten back home in one piece with no loss of life or belongings.

Hope everyone else made it home safely.

Gabrielle

Lord Aiden O'Seaghdha tells a similar harrowing story of his journey:

We, (Gabbie and I in my Bravada) and Giaus and Havuois in his truck, left the Valor site at about 8pm. Once on I-35 We were in communication with both Maximus and Shiridean. We were warned about heavy rain and slick areas. At about the 108 Mile marker on the Kansas Turnpike, Maximus called me and explained that at the 116 Mile marker he had just crossed a "flooded" portion of the road. He said that the water hit the undercaraige of his truck, and that we should be careful. The message was relayed to Giaus who was in the lead.

Once we reached the area where the water was over the road there were 3 cars in the water already and stalled out. There were also 3 cars in front of us sitting at the edge of the water 3 abreast across the road. As we contemplated what to do about whether to cross the water or wait or turn around, more traffic began to build up. After about 10-15 min. there were about 40 or so cars backed up on the north bound lane of the highway pretty much bumper to bumper. A few vehicals tried to cross including a semi with trailer followed by a Cadillac and small sedan. The semi made it, the Caddy and sedan stalled out. Now there were 5 cars in the water. Then the water began to rise. The 3 cars in front of us started to back up which made us back up and so forth and so on until there was a huge mess. A police officer made his way down to my vehicle (which was about 20 yards from the water now). I went and talked to him and explained what was happening. He then left to try and stop the cars from piling up further I assume.

As we waited the water began rising again and we made the decision to exit my vehicle and go to Giaus's truck (which was now behind us from the backing up). Gabbie and I exited my SUV and fled to the truck. The water at this point was at the bottom of my door and about a foot up high up on the passenger side. At the highest point, the water reached the TOP of my rear bumper which was about 40 yards back from where we had originally stopped. 911 was called and they were informed about the situation of rising water and they said the police were on scene and taking care of it. Shortly after (about 5-10 min. or so) The water was so high that it was hitting the doors or Giaus's truck which was about 10 feet behind mine. We then exited his vehicle and crossed the concrete divider which was doing an effective job of both keeping the south bound lane dry but also making the water rise on the north bound lane.

Once The girls were safe it was determined that those people who were still in their cars in front of us were in danger and needed to be warned. Giaus and I talked all the cars in the immediate area and informed them it would be safer to evacuate their vehicles. The water now was higher than the concrete divider on north bound lane and was spilling over onto the south bound lane. Shortly after the evactuation of the vehicles that were in danger a portion of the concrete divider (about 100 feet worth) broke loose which let loose a torent of water. Unfortunately those cars that had stalled in the water to begin with were swept over into a creek bed. About 3-4 cars went over and unfortunately there was absolutely nothing anyone on the side could do about it.

Police started to arrive on scene and start to take control of the situation. The water started to receed and after a while we were able to pull/push back those vehicles that had taken on water (including mine) during the waters rise. After a while the water receeded enough to allow some of us in the front (about the first 75-100 yards) to slip through a police access section in the divider. We then made our way back to Eldorado to a best Western.

All acounts of this night's events are to the best of my recollection. It was a bit frightening and lots of people and water to deal with. If I miss anything or relayed anything wrong I am sure you will understand.

Once again we are all just fine.

4 people lost their lives in this tragedy and our prayers should go out to the survivors.

God speed and be safe when traveling in bad weather. Remember your car is not worth your life.

Other Calontir residents reported similar experiences, but for those who remained safe and sound at the Tournament of Valor, the day was not a total loss. According to Autocrat Lady Rangeyra, those who made it to the event managed the rain in true SCAdian fashion by teaching classes in damp pavilions, helping with traffic control, and carried through with a feast for a vastly-reduced populace. About 40 gentles feasted grandly on roast pig.

SCAtoday.net is grateful that there were no casualties in our community and send our condolences to those who lost their lives or loved ones in the flooding. And as Lord Aiden said, please be careful in dangerous weather. Your car is not worth the loss of your life!

Thanks to Lord Aiden, Lady Gabrielle and Lady Rangeyra of Calontir for their reports. We are very glad that they arrived home safely. To read the official report on the storm, click on the header of this story.

Calontiris in Jepardy due to Torrential Rains

Just a short note of correction, it is the Barony of Vatavia (V'Tavia for you old-timers who remember what it was before the heralds got ahold of it), not Vataviaon.

Also, rather than being the only Valor Tournament of 24 cancelled due to rain, it will be the longest Valor of the 24 since it will be finished at the Seal Wars in Spinning Winds on October 25.

Alcyoneus du Battenhelm, Baron of Vatavia (V'Tavia)