Save Her Soul - Lisa Regan Page 0,1
small hill. Two blocks to the east was Kettlewell Creek, a small fishing tributary that rarely overflowed its banks. However, that morning, Denton had received several inches of rain in only a few hours, causing flash flooding that extended all the way to the single homes along Hempstead. All but one of the residents had self-evacuated. That resident was an elderly woman by the name of Evelyn Bassett who hadn’t been able to make it to safety before the flood. Her frantic call had come in moments ago to 911. A reporter flying overhead in a news helicopter had called in to report her distress as well, advising that she was on her porch, but the water was rising quickly. All the other rescue boats were out on missions elsewhere in the city, which left Brownlow, Josie, and Gretchen to come to Mrs. Bassett’s rescue. Evidently, boat 292 had finished up its rescue activity elsewhere just in time to assist them.
“Look out!” Gretchen yelled. She pointed straight ahead where a large clump of debris had gathered in an eddy between two trees. Pieces of it broke off and sailed away in the current, flashes of red, white, and blue.
“Damn signs!” Brownlow said. “Hard right!”
Josie and Gretchen pitched themselves to the right side of the boat as Brownlow steered hard around the detritus. Josie watched as they narrowly avoided a bunch of Dutton for Mayor signs, followed by a series of Charleston for Mayor signs. She breathed a sigh of relief when they were out of the way.
With a mayoral primary coming up in two weeks, Denton had been besieged with yard signs from the only two candidates: incumbent Tara Charleston, and her opponent—who was also her neighbor—Kurt Dutton of Dutton Enterprises, a commercial real estate development company. The buzz around the city was that Dutton was dangerously close to ousting Charleston, who had held the position as Mayor for nearly a decade. The issue with the yard signs in flooding was that the signs themselves were attached to galvanized nine-gauge steel stakes which, in swift current, could prove dangerous to inflatable rescue crafts and any person who found themselves in the water.
They followed the sounds of the rotors chopping the air overhead, the boat dropping precipitously as Brownlow steered them onto Hempstead Road. The green and white sign announcing the name of the street was only two feet from being overtaken by the water. More debris rushed past them—tree branches, sticks, household items, and what looked like the roof of a car.
“It’s really bad down here,” Gretchen said as the last few houses on Hempstead came into view. Beyond them was more rushing water. Josie knew that there had been a wooded area there before. Now only a few treetops reached up from the water, their spindly arms straining toward the gray, swollen sky overhead. Josie blinked moisture from her eyes and stared at the abyss once more. Would there be anything left when the water receded? she wondered.
The rotor wash from the news helicopter above them caused a flattening in the current of the water. Josie felt a sense of heaviness; the air was pressing down on her in the boat. She looked up to see the black helicopter looming, the letters WYEP stenciled in bright yellow letters on its side. She motioned with one hand for them to back off and a few seconds later, the helicopter ascended a little.
Gretchen muscled up beside Josie and pointed to their right. “There,” she shouted.
The flood had overtaken the front yards and porches of the houses. The last house was a two-story prefab with tan siding, its porch roof held up by thin, square white pillars made of PVC. Several mayoral candidate signs had become stuck on one of the pillars. Evelyn Bassett’s scrawny arms were wrapped tightly around another one of them. Her thin face was gray, her white hair pasted to her skull. The water rushed past her, already up to her armpits. Brownlow maneuvered the boat as close to her as he dared, but her arms were already slipping.
“She ain’t gonna be able to hold on much longer,” he hollered to Josie. “Get the throw bag!”
Josie’s hands scrambled to find the heavy red bag on the metal floor of the boat. It was filled with fifty feet of bright yellow floating rescue rope. Quickly, Josie uncinched the bag and pulled out several feet of rope, coiling it in her non-throwing hand. As she worked, Brownlow steered the boat