Late last night I walked a drainage ditch with my headlamp inspecting areas where water from the Ohio was boiling slowly into town. Overhead stars shone brightly, and the cool north wind blew dust off the levee and moist air off the river. In the distance a pump engine hummed, frogs called their mates, and a truck backfired. In places where we had worked earlier the ground was deep with mud. The harsh smell of a nearby oil well scented the air. There was no new information to report back at the fire hall. The levee held tight.
After several sleepless nights many of the volunteer firefighters from Union County were finally heading for a dry night at home. The river still had not crested but the weakest parts of the levee had been strengthened to wait out the record high water that pushed against it and washed over countless communities throughout the region.