I saw it on tee-vee, and I certainly saw the effects after we got back, but I never saw the floodwaters myself, first hand.* It's a curious cognitive gap. But then some little something happens that drives it home, suddenly makes the physical reality of those weeks vividly tangible again.
Yesterday, I was meeting with the contractor over at our house, and I casually mentioned something about the piece of driftwood in my yard (a big railroad-tie-like thing). I've seen it regularly for months but was somehow struck by the phrase "driftwood in my yard." Ridiculous.
And then we were talking about replacing the missing front steps to our porch. They floated away during the flood and have never been found. The image of our steps drifting down the street, caught in a slow, invisible current, working its way through the neighborhood for days and weeks is, somehow, hilarious. I joked that someday I'll be driving through some other part of town, and I'll see them. "Those are my steps!" The contractor joked that, more than likely, they'll be tacked on the front of some other house that also lost its steps, and it's just my hard luck that a new set didn't drift into our yard to make everything even.
* Well, except for what remained in our pots and pans and what spewed out of our refrigerator.