Monday, April 3, 2006

Water still reigns supreme

This post was originally written on April 4, Tuesday. I didn't have time to finish it then, but I don't want it to be lost, so I'd rather share an incomplete post than lose this piece of memory because I daren't publish it.

The title is a rough translation of a poem by Petőfi Sándor, one of the nation's great poets. It's like a metaphor about kings and people, how the boat may be on top of the water, and yet...

Clicking on this link will take you to a bunch of pictures to see how Budapest copes with the flood. The water is already at an all time high and rising. Esztergom and Visegrad at the Danube Bend are in the most risky situation where the Danube is expected to culminate at its highest ever level on Monday. Problem is, my parents and my sister live in Esztergom. I too was born and lived there for 24 years of my life. Yesterday I talked to mom on the phone and she said, they are indeed, scared. They live just a block down from the riverbank. There is a high dam with concrete fence. Yet, yesterday mom said that there are not enough sandbags to protect the fence. So this morning DH and I were not able to work on our translations, sitting inside our safe and dry little appartment while my parents face peril, and decided to get on the train and go to help protecting the dam. It was a good choice, as the bus would not be able to get in town - the road there is already flooded. I knew my mother would argue and try to talk me off of it, so I did not tell them we would go until we were only two stops away from my hometown. I was quite right, my parents tried to stop us, but they welcomed our little daughter. I thought, some voulenteers must help filling and packing sandbags, then it should be us, not our old parents. They should play around with their bright little grandchild.

I wanted to take some pictures, but forgot to take my camera. Instead, I took photos with my cell phone, but I don't know how to transfer it to the computer, I guess I will have to buy the proper cabel to connect them. Too bad, because there were some good pictures, like the one where the basketball field was flooded, and all you could see was the backboard, and the water almost reached the net. Mostly I was shocked when I saw my old school. It was built on a floodplain, so it was built on storey-high concrete pillars. But now, I could not see them! It looked like the building was floating on the water.
If you click here:
you'll see further pictures. The second photo shows the above mentioned concrete fence, protected with huge plastic sheets and sandbags.

Anyway, we joined the workers, filled about 50 bags and packed them on a flat truck. The weather was great - mild and sunny. We worked until we ran out of sand. We were a bit scared that the workers were going to tease us, but in fact, they were quite kind. We had a good time until we got home, and my sister asked with a sarcastic grin, "well, did you manage to save the town?" That really hurt. We felt like we've done the right thing, something we could be proud of, something that was supposed to be natural for everyone, something that could make our daughter proud. It brought tears of anger to my eyes that we would be ridiculed by my family. I thought of how my sister complains each and every spring, how she fears the flood. And yet, when we try to do something against it... well, some people I just don't understand.

1 comment:

valda said...

I'm sorry that your sister ridiculed you and your husband for trying to help the town. I think the reason she acted like that was because she was too scared to go and help and was embarassed that you all came all that way just to help. Don't let her comments make you feel bad or make you angry. You did a good thing and I'm sure others appreciated your help.