The Cleveland Park Deluge

The Cleveland Park Metro Station was recently all over social media You know the photos I’m talking about, the ones that surfaced after a torrential downpour that created a river of rainwater cascading the Cleveland Park stairs and escalator. Other photos showed the lake that had formed inside the station, the one that commuters were forced to walk through. WMATA had the presence of mind to place a wet-floor cone in the middle of the lake – “Piso Mojado!” — just in case people were unsure whether the floor was wet. I forget where I saw the comments, but someone quipped that at least WMATA had come up with an unconventional approach to addressing the spontaneous fires that have been combusting around the Metro lately. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take a look here:

There’s also video of it, thanks to WMATA, who was kind enough to post a 10-minute time lapse:

It’s kind of amazing actually, not so much the Cleveland Park River that formed, but how people react to it. A lot of people are just standing around, taking pictures and video, so that they can post to social media and show proof that they were there and alive during the Cleveland Park Deluge. One girl stands there for basically the entirety of the flood, water shooting first past her toes and then up around her shins. Imagine the filth that washed up with the flood. Yikes.

Though WMATA can be blamed for almost everything else – the inspection failures and the subsequent single-tracking that has been plaguing D.C. for weeks – it can’t be blamed for this mishap. And it handled the situation just fine, closing it for a few hours to deal with the sediment, hypodermic needles, and other paraphernalia that might have washed in with the flood.

Somebody asked me the other day if the single-tracking has affected me, given that I have no car, and Metro is one of my main forms of transportation. Truthfully I avoid rush-hour Metro at all costs and am able to do so with my bike. (My commute to work is nearly cut in half because I have that second option.) I mostly stick to riding the Metro on the weekends, which so far has been just fine. But with all the rain, I was forced to make the decision of whether to ride my bike and take the chance of getting soaked, or hop on the Metro. In both instances, I chose the latter, which I almost immediately regretted. This single-tracking is no joke, and all you have to do is take a quick 360 scan to see that everyone around you is feeling it, too. It’s a toxic environment, one that breeds mistrust and contempt. Look into somebody’s eyes on the Metro the next time you’re packed into a car that looks like the Hillsborough disaster, only to approach a platform that’s equally mashed. Maybe you will catch eyes with someone on the platform, the both of you in disbelief and filled with hatred, maybe not for each other necessarily, but maybe for the situation you’ve both found yourselves in, and maybe a little bit for humanity, too.

Which is a good time to remind myself that you need to get out of D.C. every now and then. Don’t get me wrong, I like this city, and an aerial shot from an airplane that I saw on Reddit reminded me that it has some very green, enviable qualities when comparing it to other east coast cities. I looked at the aerial shot on my phone from my Metro car, trying to track my bike route from Rosslyn to Petworth, wondering where I would be at this point. Probably home I guessed as the Metro car doors opened for the third time, the automated voice coming on to tell everyone to: “Please stand clear of the doors.”

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