At roughly 2 pm last Thursday morning flood waters could be seen cascading down the concrete steps leading up to Gilmore Field. Children took advantage of the newly named Niagara Falls of the Saxton community and splashed around in their plastic patterned rain-boots, making sure to snap a few Facebook photos of the event.
According to Julie Rayburn the water crested at about 8 a.m. and she was advised to not go to work. Only minutes later her home was in direct danger as the flood waters over-flowed into the streets. “I had no time to even breathe,” said Rayburn. “I panicked.”
“I’ve lived here for seven years and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said South Salem resident Chris Dennehy.
The flood waters were 10 inches away from reaching the inside of Rayburn’s home before they began to recede due to the help offered by the South Salem High School, and their families. “All I did was post on Facebook and they all just came in troves, the leadership team, the boys football, the girls soccer team and girls basketball and all their parents just came in troves and helped me out,” she said. “They saved my house.”
It was a parent of one student, Jeff Chipman, who came up with the idea to steer the water away with the sandbags. The results of this effort not only made the water levels drop quickly, but most likely saved this neighborhood from serious damage.
The students and parents worked for hours redirecting and containing the water even though it was contaminated with raw sewage.
Later the wet workers communed over coffee, cocoa, and taco’s donated by two of the student’s mothers.
“The spirit of the Saxton community is strong,” said a tearful Rayburn. “We might get a bad rap sometimes but when it comes down to it, it’s about the kids and the community and it is just incredible.”