Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Flood Musings

Well, the Ohio River is on its way to another flood, the third in less than a calendar year. It's amazing to me how people can put up with this time after time. I know that last fall's flood was atypical in a lot of ways, and this one will be a more typical flood. Just the fact that there is such a beast as a typical flood amazes me! At any rate, I'm certain that roads will be closed. Marietta floods at 38 feet; many streets are closed at 36. I'm not sure at what level the Williamstown Bridge floods.

I'm also astounded at the specialized knowledge that I've picked up since I've been here, without even reailzing it. It's not really transferable; it's not important to know that the Hermann Parking Lot takes on water at 40 feet, just above flood stage. But folks around here are resilient, and they put up with it flood after flood. Apparently flooding was much more prevalent before the addition of the lock and dam system. Debbie was saying today that it flooded every year, and that folks just dealt with it, much the same way that they deal with annual snow. People just learn to move their belongings upstairs, clean the downstairs really well, and start all over again. I admire them, as I don't think I could do that. But in a way, I guess I do. I found this apartment at the very last minute, and it was only pure dumb luck that it was out of the flood plain. And in Parkersburg, who apparently got tired of getting water in their homes and built the floodwall. I think the floodwall is the best thing about Parkersburg. Smartest idea this town ever had. I wonder what Grandma Saunders thought of the floodwall?

And after a while, even living as far from the river as I do, I'm starting to get a sense of the river. I guess that's not too surprising, since I cross it at least twice a day. As early as Monday, I started getting concerned about this flood, and praying for the rain to stop. I just had a feeling. The river also looks and feels different. I could tell that the river was rising, even though I've seen it much higher. The river seemed angry, reaching and grabbing at whatever it could find. When the river was receding, even though the level was higher than it was today, it had a different feeling. It seemed resentful and rather determined, like it was still trying to hold onto the land that it had just reclaimed. Both were quite different from the welcoming river that I've grown to love, the river that hoists barges on its back, that beckons to families to play, and that laughs when the sunlight hits it.

My cousin once said that she thought that a wildfire would be the worst of all possible disasters. I hope I never have either one, but I'd think that a flood would be worse in one way. When a fire ends, everything's gone. When a flood recedes, everything is ruined, and nothing can be done before the cleanup: no rebuilding, no planning, nothing. The only way in which I think a flood beats a wildfire is in the loss of life. You can see a river flood coming and at least get yourself out of the way.

So that's where it stands now. The river is now at 32.56 feet and rising. I'll report later on what tomorrow brings. No one has ever said that life was boring on the river!

Saddam Update

Just an update on a post from last summer, when you were introduced to Saddam the Crawdaddy.

Heedless of the wind and weather, Saddam still occupies the little hole outside my patio. I figured that he would certainly hibernate or migrate or something, but he's still there. Granted, it has been unseasonably warm (and wet), but I often see his little head poking out of his little crawdaddy hole. After a while, he started to grow on me, and I kinda like the guy now. I'd like to feed him this time of year, but I don't know what he eats. I know it certainly isn't turkey.

Ohio River Flood Level

at the confluence of the Ohio and the Muskingum (close to the hotel) is reported at the bottom of the page. Welcome to the City of Marietta

FRONTLINE: home | PBS

Bush's religion: a focus of FrontlineFRONTLINE: home | PBS