Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Please join me in welcoming back, Vijaya Schartz with an exciting post!

I never used to fear the storm, not in all my years... not even when a micro-burst half-destroyed my house over a decade ago. Of course, I was at work at the time, not inside it. But last summer, I was driving on 59th Avenue on a sunny Saturday afternoon, when one of those sudden monsoon storms hit. Within minutes the sky darkened, like twilight in the middle of the day, strong winds, dust, zero visibility, then rain.

Thick walls of water like gray sails waved beyond the windshield, gusty side winds carried large objects across the road and knocked them against hard surfaces with loud bangs. Through the water curtain, I could see car lights in front and in back of me. The wind whooshed like a turbine. The electric poles along the street shook wildly. Lightning hit, close by. Light exploded all around, and thunder cracked and boomed, echoing inside the car, inside my body like a deep drum roll.

That’s when fear set in. My heart beat faster than after running a 10K. Still, I couldn’t panic. I had to think... and fast.

Although the cars had slowed, stopping on the main road with traffic would be suicide. Driving in this chaos would also be suicide as the electric poles swayed dangerously, waving their array of thick power lines overhead. The street was flooding fast. What to do?

Eyes riveted to the right curb that quickly disappeared under the rising tide, I spotted a faint driveway to the side, and remembered it must lead to the DMV parking lot. Following the curb, I managed to get my car off the road and into the wide open space... anywhere. I couldn’t see the white lines on the pavement anyway. Other cars followed my tail lights and parked in a line next to me, as if taking comfort in company. I felt their presence somewhat reassuring.

Were we safe? Not really. There was no safe place to hide from the storm. The flagpole overhead shook dangerously under the gusty winds flapping the flag, and the ropes snapped against it with loud metallic knocks. Garbage cans, branches, and large pieces of debris flew and swept across the open area with unprecedented force. I feared at any moment the wind might lift my little car and throw it against a concrete building.

Then, as fast as it had come, although it seemed to last for hours, the storm moved away, leaving me relieved and shaken at the sight of the destruction. In the last spattering of rain, I could see fallen poles across the flooded street, downed power lines sparking in flood water, traffic lights strewn in the middle of the intersection, and fallen trees.

A few hundred yards south of the DMV parking lot on 59th Avenue, where I would have been if I had not turned, an electric pole had crushed a car, trapping the driver inside, in the middle of a small electrified lake. It was a woman, and I learned later on the news that she was not seriously hurt, but I felt guilty and glad at the same time. I was unscathed, but it could have been me.

In the aftermath of the storm, all the streets in the area were flooded or blocked by debris. People stood on their front porch, staring at their destroyed property, eyes wide, as if wondering how so much destruction could happen in so little time. It was dark, hours later, when I finally reached my small apartment ten blocks away, after many detours and turnarounds, in dangerously flooded streets and bumper to bumper traffic. I was never so glad to hug my cat.

No matter how strong or fearless we are, there is always something or someone stronger than us, and Mother Nature is teaching us lessons at every turn. The memories of this storm will stay with me forever, and I bet they will end up in a book someday.

In the meantime, you can read my latest contemporary romance with a hint of suspense, set in Scottsdale, Arizona, and available in eBook everywhere in all formats:


When Talia runs over billionaire Kyle Dormant with her bicycle in the dog park, she considers their meeting a happy accident. He believes it is destiny, but her physician's mind rebels at such notions. Their budding romance comes to a grinding halt when Kyle won’t wake up from deep sleep... with no medical explanation. Baffled and deeply concerned, Talia digs into his recent past for a plausible cause. Instead, she uncovers dark family secrets. Convinced Kyle's condition was induced, and someone wants him dead, she is anxious to save him, but the closer she gets to the sordid truth… and a possible cure, the greater the risk to both their lives.


Margo Hoornstra said...

Though awe inspiring most times, Mother Nature does have a ruthless streak. Like you, I was on the road when the view outside the windshield turned soupy green and the raging wind actually lifted the back of my car off the pavement. One of those things you never forget, but oh the emotions and descriptions that come out of it. Best of luck with your latest!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Storms in AZ can be brutal. Most think of AZ as a mild weather state, but they've not experienced our storms!

Jannine Gallant said...

What an awesome description--it should wind up in a book! I've only dealt with blinding whiteout conditions driving in snowstorms. Those only last for a minute. I can't imagine sustaining that shot of adrenaline induced fear over a long period.Really enjoyed your post!

Vijaya Schartz, author said...

Thanks for the kind comments. It took me a while before I could write about this experience, and still my heart beats hard when I think about it. I do believe Mother Nature is getting more violent as the climate changes, though.

Diane Burton said...

That sudden storm must have been scary. You were smart to get off the road. I'm going to have to read Asleep in Scottsdale since my son works there. :)

Leah St. James said...

Holy cow, that must have been terrifying! Great description! I didn't know it stormed like that in Arizona either. So glad you made it through safely. One of my hard-and-fast rules: Don't underestimate Mother Nature.

Rolynn Anderson said...

What Leah said...Mother Nature takes all the smugness out of us, for sure. My husband and I had a harrowing experience in our first boat in horrifically high seas only hours after the ocean was flat as a lake. And have you heard about rogue waves? Oh my! Humans have much less control than we think! Thanks for the reminder :-)