It’s muddy and freezing. Wave after icy wave washes over my head, pushing me under its turbulent surface. My mouth barely breaks the surface in time to take a gulping breath. Salt and oil and river mud seep onto my tongue. Flailing my arms, I struggle to remain afloat, the hysterical wind smacking against my face, stinging my eyes and numbing my nose. Debris floats past. A little further down the deluge of water a fire rips through a barely-afloat trailer, searing my face and arms as I’m thrust past. Here in Mississippi they try to teach you what to do in a hurricane, flood, earthquake or general disaster. For some reason, while I’m gasping for breath and loosing feeling in my limbs, I can’t quite recall the tips we were given. A moment later I tense. Two beady eyes peer at me from the log floating nearby. ‘Of course!’ I think with a sinking heart and clenching stomach, ‘the flood would have brought the swamps level with the city!’ Adrenaline floods my arms and legs, bringing invigorating warmth and energy with it. Glancing around, I see a short length of wire spinning in a mini-whirlpool. It’s my best chance. If the wire is still live, oh well, I’m as good as dead anyway with a ‘gator eying me up. I lunge. With a snap I can feel vibrating in the air, the deadly jaws lock shut centimeters from where my arm was. Cursing with what breath I had, I grabbed the wire and turned to face my predator. It advanced swiftly, no stalking anymore. Before he could reveal his teeth again I had the wire wrapped tightly around his snout and was holding it firmly. Without really thinking about it, I straddled the beast, keeping well out of range of his whiplash tail, and pulled to keep his nose-and his body-above water. The beat of a helicopter slowly came closer. They signaled me as I waved, then maneuvered into position. As a rescuer descended, I started laughing softly. Here I was, a fifteen year old girl, riding an alligator through the flood. The man who helped me into the harness looked startled, but I was soon rising to safety. I saw him release the animal just as he too, swung into the sky.