Donna Everhart

First Sentence Friday! Chapter Three

I’ve already mentioned parts of THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET have some historic fact, and it was the flood in western North Carolina in 1940 that became the launch point for my story.

A flood is something I’ve only recently become a little more intimately familiar with.  Hurricane Matthew, just last year in October of 2016, was an event where I actually experienced the effects of something like twelve inches of rain in a twenty-four hour period.  A total of thirty-nine people died, twenty of them from North Carolina.

In the picture below, if you look to the left about mid-way down where it says North Carolina in the middle of a county, (you might have to click on it) the right hand side of that county shows areas where it goes from purple to white.  That’s about where I live.  By this chart, it measures eight to ten inches of rain, but the local weather forecasters were able to get even more precise than this, and showed various rainfall inches town by town.  I remember looking at my husband, astonished when it showed “twelve point something,” in our area.  I hope to never see that sort of rain again – although we had another heavy rain event in late April that flooded our cellar.  (silly us, we forgot the sump pumps were unplugged for the winter)

What does one do when there’s no power?  You drive around looking.  Here are some photos I took while out on the hunt for coffee.  There were no stores were open.  No electricity for days. (trees on power lines = not helpful)

Well, that explains it.
Damage in the ‘hood.
Flooded Black River, about a mile and half from my house.
Oops. Don’t think I’m supposed to be on I-95, at least not in this direction, but I’m sure glad I ain’t going the other way either. (The Great Hunt For Coffee Caper, 2016)

We were lucky in that we had a generator, and could use our coffeepot, turn on a few lights, and we even had TV.  Somehow, people make do, even if those things are not available to them.  And, there are the random acts of kindness with strangers who take chain saws in the back of their trucks and drive around to see if they can help clean up an elderly person’s yard.  Or they’ll let someone else go in front of them in line, because their small children don’t understand why their world has suddenly changed.  (I overheard a three year old ask their mother time and again, “but, why can’t I watch TV?)  As a friend said recently, in more or less words, he’d rather be in an area that’s flat when it floods.  A hurricane dumps a lot of rain, as Cat 1 Matthew proved, creating a lot of devastation.

I mean, forget the wind, sometimes it’s…the water.

It goes without saying, heavy amounts of rain rushing down a mountain and into the creeks, streams and rivers causes them to rise fast – fast, really fast.  The storms swept over land already saturated from the previous event, so it didn’t take long for things to get out of hand.  Bridges were washed out along with roads, and railroad tracks.  The trains that normally brought in staples and food weren’t able to run.  The flood water washed away businesses, houses, and people.

What it couldn’t take was the steadfast resolve of those who lived through it, or, as the book cover’s tagline suggests, their courage. 



The truck shifted like it might start moving again and we clambered onto the small, cramped roof, driven by the relentless rise of water in the back.


A Publishers Lunch BUZZ BOOK Fall/Winter 2017, and a SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) Trio Pick for 2018, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET releases December 26th, 2017.  

***I’m using #FirstSentenceFridays on Twitter and tagging @Kensington Publishing Corporation.  Follow along and tweet out/share if you’d like!***






7 thoughts on “First Sentence Friday! Chapter Three”

  1. In that one sentence you can feel the fear, and how frantic they must have born. In 1998, the San Antonio area had 18 inches of rain in one day. We’d only lived here a few years, and has never experienced anything like it. Our next door neighbor’s house was struck by lightning, and it took hours for the fire department to get there. Fortunately there was no fire, but it left a gaping hole in their roof, through which the put an umbrella, because torrential rains continued. The flooding was unbelievable, especially areas with streams and rivers. Since then our area has had a couple other instances of devastating rain and flooding. I’ve seen water move buildings, and seen the things left behind in the trees from the buildings that were dragged along that water. 2 years ago, a raging river caused be massive rain tore houses off their foundations…houses filled with vacationers who couldn’t get out in time, and lives were lost.

    1. When I see video on TV of people trapped in their vehicles, or in a tree (scene in the book with that) or just watching the sheer force of it move what would seem impossible to move – it definitely puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it?

      Funny too, about things left in trees – a scene about that too – in the book. Am I torturing you yet? 🙂

  2. I remember how worried I was about you and yours because of Hurricane Matthew, Donna! It was such a relief to see you back online and to find out you were safe. I love hearing stories about random acts of kindness. That and the steadfast resolve people demonstrate/discover in themselves in extreme situations is so inspiring; it gives me hope. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I just have to say it once more 😉 : I love the masterful way in which you weave your own experiences into your First Sentence Friday. I’m totally hooked and wowed! <3 <3 <3

    1. It’s hurricane season again here, too! Ugh. I hate it when they forecast the potential for what might hit the East Coast. I love hearing those sorts of stories too! I was running errands yesterday and heard about a police officer who stopped a young woman and could have cited her with three tickets, and instead, he took her to get her car inspected so her registration could be updated, AND bought her a new tire to boot. It makes my heart sing to hear this sort of thing!

      And thank you for that, Lilac – hey, you can say it all you want. I won’t mind. 🙂 <3 <3 <3

      1. The story about the policeman is outstanding, Donna! What an incredible ANGEL he is. What I don’t like is that it’s hurricane season again. Ugh. 🙁 Please keep us posted on the situation. I’ll definitely keep you and yours in my prayers.

        And thanks for being so gracious about my repetitiveness. 😉 I promise to come up with new praise as well. You totally deserve it. 🙂 <3 <3 <3

  3. Like you, our worst local flood was in winter. It was the El Nino of 97-98. Heavy rain for a couple of months filled everything, including the aquifer, and there was no where for the water to go.

    I do have a few leftover nightmares from Arizona, where I was born, and flash floods. Seeing the aftermath of a ‘cane that made it to the mountains brought that back some. The poor animals that got left behind emphasized the potential too much.

    I hope the writing of this didn’t cause too much distress to you. It looks like it will be a hell of a ride.

    1. Heavy rain for a couple of months sounds almost biblical! Yikes. I can’t begin to imagine. Although any sort of flooding is scary, a flash flood might just be the worst of them. With Hurricane Katrina, I think that was the storm that finally nailed down the guidelines with regard to animals, (at least dogs/cats, etc. i.e. in home pets) and their being allowed in shelters. Unfortunately…what happens to cows, horses, etc? I guess they’re…just left. Nothing to be done except let them try to survive.

      No distress – I just use what I know to try and make it real. (Least that’s what I hope)

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top