(2018-09-16) Ridealong
Jessica rides along with Julian to record the storm's devastation, but the pair runs into people in need of rescue.

Though the storm has moderately let up, the back side of the hazardous weather is no less dangerous now with the flash flood warnings in effect. Much of this side of town is flooded, not just because it's simply an underserved section of the city, but also because - "If you were to look at a map, you'd see that this part of the city is slightly lower in elevation. It's a notorious flood hazard." Julian explains as he creeps his jeep along through the flooded streets, Jessica being his passenger. Fortunately, the ranger drives a vehicle more than capable of off-road navigating and it sits high enough that he doesn't have to worry too much about water. Briefly the other day his jeep got stuck after rescuing a family, but the fire department had some 'big guns', so to speak, and was able to help him free his vehicle early this morning. When the reporter approached him about possibly taking her out to see the aftermath of the storm, Julian was, at first, understandably reluctant. It was still pretty dangerous out there. But on the promise of drinks later, he finally relented. It also helps to get some PR out there for the Warden, considering he is severely short staffed for the region he's responsible for. A single man can not feasibly oversee Silver Lake and the San Juan Mountains. He basically works anywhere upwards of 70 hours a week, and that's not including his tourist work on the weekends that he sometimes picks up for some extra cash. So now, here he is, driving slowly through the flooded street, pointing out different parts of the city and explaining its history. "This is one of the city's problem childs when it comes to flooding. It doesn't help that there is no money for rebuilding the infrastructure. So every year it just gets a little worse."

For this particular adventure, Jessica has added a raincoat over her white hoodie, swapped out her shorts for a proper pair of jeans, and her hiking boots over her socks. She's also brought her trusty backpack along, as well as a proper camera of the professional variety: a Protax D7300 complete with an optical zoom. Nope, this is definitely not for amateurs. She has been snapping pictures along the way, capturing scenes of the devastation of the storm, of flooded roads and streets, of trees waving dangerously in the winds, of the dark clouds roiling dramatically over Calaveras' skies… and while he drives, she continues to do so, pointing her camera out her side of the vehicle, and occasionally peeking through the windshield.

The current flooded zone is of particular interest, and many pictures are taken as the jeep wades through the water. "This place floods every year?" She finally asks, after taking half a dozen pictures and lowering the camera to check its battery levels, then peers up towards the surrounding mountains. "Looks like all the water nearby drains down to this spot. No wonder. I guess the locals must be getting pretty sick of it by now."

At least Julian has the top roof and the doors attached to his jeep! Normally he goes without them. "Pretty much. This time of year is the ass end of the monsoon season. Really, I'm actually surprised this storm hit as late in the season as it did." He shrugs indifferently, slowing the jeep down when he senses Jessica's particular interest honed in on something she's snapping a series of photos of. He seems to pick up on her needs pretty easily, slowing down where necessary, manuevering the jeep to certain angles for a better shot - all with little verbal direction. "Must be global warming and shit, ya know?" The jeep's engine rumbles with an almost rhythmic pattern, which can be oddly relaxing. As they creep down the street, the sound of shouting can be heard, though from a distance it's barely audible over the sound of the vehicle. It's pretty clear Julian is already on alert, though, judging from the shift in his demeanor. When the round the bend, they come upon a scene of chaos. On the roof of a boarded up gas station that looks as though it's been out of business for years, there's a group of people shouting and pointing, clearly they look distressed. Following their gestures and shouts, Julian turns to see what they could possibly be pointing to. It doesn't take long to notice the old '90s blue and gray sedan almost halfway submerged beneath the flood waters that have, at least on this small decline section of the street, taken over. On top of the vehicle are two children and their pet. The presumable father is wading in the water trying to push the vehicle out of the water. Probably not the brightest move.

"And the politicians still try to convince people global warming is fantasyland. Weather patterns all around the world have been changing rapidly in the past ten years, but sure, it's just a fluke." Jessica shoots a backwards glance at the ranger, sounding frustrated with that particular argument. The camera is lifted once more, aimed at a couple of vehicles submerged in the water, and her focus only shifts when the scene comes into her viewfinder.

Instincts kick in, and Jessica is snapping pictures rapidly. People stranded on the roof of a gas station? That tells a story. As does kids and a dog on top of a car. Even the silly man trying to push the car… where, exactly? "Looks like not everyone evacuated when they should've." Jessica suggests when the camera is lowered. "Or they picked a really bad day to go to MacDonald's." She turns back to Julian. "Can you do something to help these people?"

Julian is already in rapid response mode even as Jessica is turning to see if there's anything they can do. "Can you drive a stick shift?" He asks, his tone of voice leavine little room for long-winded answers. He veers the jeep to the side then brings it around the bend where the street declines sharply into the culdesac that the vehicle and the family is stuck in. Without waiting for Jessica to answer, Julian stops the jeep, leaving it running as he jumps out and starts instructing the man in the water. "Put your vehicle in neutral!" The ranger rushes around to the front of his jeep, unwinding the towhook from the towbar bracket on the jeep. He glances up at Jessica, "We need to pull that vehicle out of the water!" It's still raining, though not nearly with the force that it had the previous day. For Julian, the poncho really doesn't do much, particulary once he starts wading into the water with the hook in one hand. It's right in that moment that the man in the water next to the vehicle struggling to open the door to do as he is instructed begins to tire… and goes under.

Jessica doesn't answer Julian question, only nodding to him in the affirmative. Nor does she ask for clarifications; while Julian guides the jeep towards the beleaguered family, Jessica takes the opportunity to secure her camera in the backpack, which is then placed on the rear seat for safekeeping. As soon as the ranger hops out of the jeep into the water, the reporter is climbing over to the driver's seat, checking where everything is and getting herself familiar with the controls. She revvs the engine a couple of times, making sure it's running fine, then sticks her head out to the side to call back to Julian. "Just tell me when!" Yes, the girl's ready to go. From her angle, she can see past Julian to the father of the family — just as he gets sucked underwater. Her gray eyes widen in alarm! "Julian! He just went under!" She shouts along with an urgent finger-point.

Along with Jessica's warning, the people on the roof of the building are equally pointing. Julian, having been focused on the towhook, doesn't initially realize what just happened. When he hears his name, his head snaps up to focus on Jessica, even then it takes him a moment to realize what she's trying to shout to him. With the towhook in hand, Julian dives immediately beneath the water without hesitation, without trying to gauge exactly where the man went down at. He's under for about 30 seconds. Seconds that felt more like minutes. The water isn't particularly deep, but it's deep enough if you've been stuck in for any length of time and are too exhausted to remain afloat. After the breathless wait, the man that had went under resurfaces, with Julian behind him. With a surprising show of strength, Julian hauls the slightly obese man up on the hood of the vehicle (which is actually somewhat underwater) where the man can at least remain more or less in safety. The two children and their dog congregate near the edge of the roof, on the windshield of the sedan, to reach out for their father. Meanwhile, Julian is searching around then looks up in Jessica's direction. "I lost the towhook! I'm gonna need to dive for it!" And with that, he dives back under water and the seconds begin to tick away once more.

"Hey, wait!" Jessica starts to protest, but too late, Julian is already back underwater. "C'mon, c'mon." She mutters to herself as the ranger is nowhere to be seen for long seconds, seconds that seem far, far longer. After ten to twelve of those torturous seconds, Jessica swears under her breath and opens the door, stepping into the water herself with a splash. Holding on to the side of the jeep, she starts to wade towards the family on top of the sedan, calling out to the two kids. "Is that your dad? Hold on to him, okay? Make sure he stays right there!" Having issued her instructions, Jessica continues moving until she reaches the side of the car, approximately where Julian was standing before. She then reaches into the water, blindly searching for the ranger… in case he needs any level of help at all. "Julian? Are you okay?"

Fortunately for Jessica, the tow cable attached to the rack on the front of the jeep provides a lifeline to hold onto to prevent her from any possible dangers with the flood water. It also apparently serves as a navigational tool because at the end of it is the towhook Julian is currently underwater searching for. If she's holding onto it, she can feel the vibration of someone (or something) handling it beneath the waters. As if foreshadowing Julina's return, the ranger bursts from the water seconds later, the towhook in hand. He grabs onto the hood of the vehicle beneath the water, holding on for a moment as he takes the time to gauge his surroundings. When he realizes Jessica jumped out of the vehicle and into the water to search for him, Julian's head tilts to the side. But jokes are reserved for later, though there is a -hint- of something on his face. It's an act of willpower not to crack a joke at the now completely soaked journalist. "Jess, I'm going to tow up the car, but I need to get it in neutral first. As soon as I wave my hand, I'm going to need you to tow us all out, okay?"

Yes, no jokes. If she murders him now, she can claim it was all an accident. As it is, Jessica isn't really startled by the ranger's return, since the tow cable provides plenty of forewarning. Her gray eyes a bit wide at his impression as the Swamp Thing, but she does nod at his words. "What about them?" She points towards the family, with the kids and dog trying to keep the man from sliding back into the water. "Shouldn't we get them into the jeep? If we start towing the car uphill, they might fall off and get swept away. They're just kids." She points out, because /that/ would be really, really messy.

Considering Julian hasn't shaved this -week-, he's starting to look kinda like a Swamp Thing. Maybe? A much sexier one, though. "We don't have time for that." Julian quickly counters, his eyes drawn uphill where the floodwaters continue to bottleneck into this culdesac. But he does take a minute to consider the kids, the dog, and the father. Looking to the man, Julian starts barking orders. "Gather up on the windshield! Lift the wipers up! Good, now, sit under it and snap it back into place over them." Julian is… apparently coaching the dad into jurry rigging his kids to the windshield wipers. This is where experience trumps everything else. Julian waves at Jessica without any further words, gesturing for her to get back to the jeep and get ready. He dives under water, placing the hook in an appropriate structural location on the frame of the sedan. A few moments later, he's coming around to the side of the car, struggling to get the door open… to no avail.

Jessica isn't entirely convinced the windshield wipers are going to make much of a safety belt, taking a moment to watch the family try to make it work regardless. Deciding it's going to be as good as it can be, Jessica turns and wades back to the jeep…. slipping for a second and ends up splashing in the water. NOW she's thoroughly soaked. Sputtering, she pulls herself out using the towline, then continues her way and finally climbs into the driver's seat. Taking a moment to wipe away the water from her face, then brushes back her entirely wet hair, she looks in the rearview mirror and notices Julian struggling with the door. Well that's vexing. Turning to the rear seat, she looks around for something. Surely the ranger has an axe or something similar in the backseat, right? Reaching back for it, she leans out from the jeep door and holds the axe out. "Just smash the window!"

Julian hits the window several times, but damn if it isn't strong glass. It's not exactly easy to break a car window, unlike what the movies might portray. Looking altogether frustrated, when Jessica calls out, waving his fire axe, the ranger blinks, wipes the his hair from his face and peers closer. He gestures for her to throw it - though he isn't exactly putting much stock on her throwing it far enough so he's already swimming back toward the jeep. The family is still getting prepared for the ride and the water level is steadily rising.

Throw it? Jessica blinks and studies the axe. Looking back to Julian, she makes as if to throw it, but is hit by a mental image of the axe hitting Julian squarely in the chest. Or in a slightly better scenario, the axe may disappear into the rushing water. So she refrains, and waits for the ranger to swim back to the jeep so the axe can be handed over, risk-free. "You can thank me later for not throwing this!" She calls out as well, loud enough to be heard over the rainfall and the noise of the rushing flood.

Julian spares Jessica a quick, less stressed out look, as he grabs the axe from her and turns around without hesitation and swims back to the sedan. By now, the water is waist level for the family -on- the hood of the vehicle. But the problem is that there are 4 of them, and Julian is not about to put himself in a position where he's playing God and deciding which ones to save first. Rather, he coaches them to use the windshield wipers for leverage and plans to tow the whole vehicle out, with them on board. It only takes him one swing to smash the window in, shoving the axehandle in then sliding it along the frame of the window to clean away any possible jagged edges. Once done, he leans into the window, reaching over and pulling the automatic back into neutral. The moment he does, Julian withdraws, holding tightly now to the vehicle as he waves for Jessica to start backing up.

Jessica keeps her attention focused on Julian's actions, and the long-awaited wave sets her into action. Shifting gears to reverse, the reporter turns her head to look backwards, and starts backing the jeep up. After moving about six or seven feet, there is a jolt as the tow cable draws taut; in response Jessica steps on the gas pedal, and the jeep resumes moving, inching back and begins to tow the stranded sedan along. Slowly but steadily, she steers the jeep back the way they came from, up the street and gradually pulling the family away from the water.

Cheers erupt from the people on the rooftop of the building nearby and the family on the windshield of their vehicle huddle together and, sure enough, those windshield wipers hold out, affording them something to use as makeshift leverage to maintain their place, with their little pomeranian dog yapping inbetween the kids. The last several meters is shallow enough to where Julian walks alongside the vehicle, wading through the water until the sedan breaks free completely from the flood water's grasp. Julian doesn't have time to do more than briefly check on the family, however, because he is immediately returning to the jeep and reaching over Jessica, leaning against her as he takes up his com, hits the button and begins to report to dispatch. "Ranger One to Dispatch." "Go ahead Ranger One." "The old Shoprite on the corner of Smelter and Willow has approximately a dozen people stranded on the roof of the building. Possible 14-Bravo-1. Send extraction team." "Roger that, Ranger One."

Jessica shifts into parking gear, letting out a sigh of relief as the immediate rescue is completed. She'll probably want to check on the family, but doesn't get a chance when Julian hurries to call the situation in. So he's leaning across her lap to get at the radio - it's cool, even though her gray eyes widen just a tad, more surprised than having any real objections. In fact, she patiently sits and waits for him to call it in, studying the profile of his face. His wet hair is dripping water, and watching the stream of rivulets on his face, she reaches up to helpfully wipe some of it away.

Julian's professional demeanor is so oddly contrasting of his off-duty one that it's almost as if looking at someone else entirely. He's confidant, controlled, and his voice has that familiar, easygoing tone that he had that day he coached the journalist up from a cliff before she discovered the physics of gravity. As soon as he gets off the radio, he lifts his arm…which is apparently bleeding pretty badly from a nasty cut. Most likely something from the broken glass in the window. Of course, this means that he's been bleeding on Jessica as well. Not realizing it until just now, Julian blinks. "Shit. There's a first aid kit in the back of the jeep, can you grab it? I need to unhook the car and bring in the tow cables." Apparently, even though it looks pretty bad, the man doesn't appear to be particularly worried about it. (How much blood he got on her clothes is another matter entirely, though!)

The moment passes abruptly, when attention is brought to a bleeding arm! Jessica blinks and starts, staring at his arm for a few seconds. "Oh! Yes… of course. Right." Shaking herself out of it, Jess turns around again, reaching back in search of the First Aid kit. Which isn't that difficult to find, of course. By the time she hauls it on to her lap, Julian is presumably already off to unhook the tow cable. Stepping out of the jeep then, she moves to join the ranger, but now remembers the family still on the windshield. "Hey, you guys okay?" She moves to help out, leaving the kit on the roof of the sedan so that she can help the kids off, one a time. "Is anyone hurt?"

Overall, the family is shaken up, the kids are cold and wet, and the dog is yapping unappily, but otherwise they seem stable. Julian is leaving a small trail of blood, however, as he stubbornly finishes towing the cable in before finally snatching the first aid kit from the hood. "I'm gonna need an extra pair of hands." The man comments, grimacing slightly as he pulls himself up into the seat of his jeep and lays out the softpack first aid kit in front of him. While Jessica is attending to the family, Julian is holding his forearm up and picking the bit of glass shard that was still sticking out from it. He tosses it and proceeds to pull out the bandages and antibiotic ointment necessary to appropriately treat his wound.

Jessica crouches down to check on each on the kids (and the dog), patting each on the head with a reassuring smile. "Stay with your dad. People are coming to help; we'll dry you up soon." Rising to her feet, she also quickly checks on the father, and then she's rejoining Julian at the jeep. The glass shards are already removed at that point, but Jessica still reaches for his arm with both hands, trying to hold it for a visual inspection. "Alright, just hold it up. Let me dress it." She tells him, and is already taking over the items he's pulled out. Grabbing a towel from the backseat, she dabs at his arm to dry it first, and then proceeds to apply the ointment to sterilize the wound. She actually looks like she knows what she's doing, imagine that!

Now that the immediate threat is over and adrenaline has run its course, Julian gradually seems to slouch, to the point where he just looks exhausted. Nevermind the fact that he's been working himself ragged this weekend, swimming while doing a bunch of other things is misleadingly taxing. His head is slightly bowed as Jessica gets to work on the wound care, holding his arm however she guides it as she does her thing. Finally he clears his throat, "Thanks, Jess." He murmers, leveling those emerald greens with her more blue-grayish colored gaze briefly before turning to regard the job she did getting his wound squared away. He nods in satisfaction. "Not bad… for a journalist." The first smile is cracked and he studies her carefully for her reaction. Sirens can be heard in the distance, foreshadowing the extraction team that Julian called in several minutes ago. "They're making pretty damn good time, all things considered." He observes, turning away from the girl who just bandaged him up and eyeing the end of the street where the first responders will presumably approach from.

Jessica only looks up briefly at him when he makes that comment about her, smirking wordlessly before she returns to the task of patching him up. Quickly the bandages are wrapped securely around the wound, tight enough to prevent further bleeding. Only then does she look back at him, her gray eyes meeting his greens. "I spent almost three years with Greenpeace in the field. When your have to spend a month in Bolivia or Vietnam, it's a good idea to learn some basic first-aid because no one else is going to look after you out there." A quick smile is flashed at the ranger, and then her gaze moves to the people on the roof of the gas station. "They'll get to those people, right?" Again, she looks back to Julian. "Time for you to take a break, I think."

Julian is suddenly looking none the worse for wear other than the nasty cut and certainly exhausted. When she refers to the people on the roof, he reflexively glances up at them, taking a moment to lift his good arm and wave it to them. "They'll all be fine." Even as he is nodding and making that presumption, a fire truck and an ambulance arrive. The EMTs are quick to arrange transport for the family while the firefighters proceed to troubleshoot egressing the civilians from the rooftops. "C'mon, I'll take you back to the B&B. Did you get enough photos? Might wanna snap a few more before we leave."

"OH." Jessica's eyes again widen, remembering that in all the excitement, she hasn't taken any pictures of the actual rescue itself. Now it's her turn to lean over him, reaching for her backpack in the backseat, retrieving her camera then and rushing out to snap pictures. Even if they aren't of the actual rescue, she can take pictures of the rescued family, and the other responders getting the people from the rooftops. Soon enough she's satisfied, and Jessica returns to the jeep. "Okay, I'm all done. I'm dying for some hot food and a hot bath."

Julian leans back and this time it's his turn to regard Jessica as she uses his body as a climbing apparatus to get to her backpack. Except, of course, they're both soaking wet. He cannot help but chuckle and shake his head, rolling his eyes at the silliness of it all. As the reporter goes about doing what reporters do, Julian gets the jeep in gear and lets the engine rumble patiently till she gets back. "I'm probably going to sleep for two days straight when all this is over." He grumbles wearily as they pull out from the culdesac and head back to the B&B. "I'd call this a job well done. Couldn't have done it without you, Jess." He follows that up by reaching over and slugging her in the shoulder - well, in an affectionate sort of way.

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