Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We can take a break from the "rain dance" now!

Well, we are in a really unfamiliar position here in Gooding this week.

Gooding has two rivers: Big Wood River (which flows to the north of town) and the Little Wood River (which flows directly THROUGH town). Many people think of the Little Wood River as just a "canal", which implies that PEOPLE rather than nature can control it. Not true. Many many years ago (60? 70?), the Army Corps of Engineers built a rock wall to contain the river as it flows by back yards, parks, and schools. This wall has deteriorated dramatically over the years. Our small town is unable to afford to repair/replace it and each year we wait for federal funding, the price increases by hundreds of thousands of dollars. I believe the last estimate for the project was over $10 million dollars. (The feds didn't think that repairing our river wall was as important as building a bridge to an island in Alaska, populated with 50 people who didn't WANT the bridge...)

The homeowners who live along the Little Wood River (three to four blocks to the north and south, approximately) are considered to live in a "flood plain". The only time people really know about that is when they are financed for their homes, because the banks require flood insurance. It's kind of been a joke because we live in a high desert and have been in a drought for so many years. Floods are just out of our frame of reality!

This year is different as we are realizing this week. We've had a great snowfall this winter and lots of rain. The Magic Reservoir (which feeds these rivers) is at capacity. In the next 24-48 hours, as it continues to rain and snow continues to melt, Magic will overflow. This excess water will end up in Gooding.

The hardest part is actually accepting the reality of the possibility of an actual flood in Gooding. The next hardest part is trying to figure out who will be affected and how much? A couple of inches in the basements? A couple of feet along the streets? Will the water flow to the south or on both sides? Will the schools be affected? Will our children be "trapped" on the other side of the river (which is between the school and "town")? Will we lose power and water supply? Are some of us over-reacting? Are some people ignoring the possibility of "worst case situation" and will be unprepared? What am I neglecting to do to protect my own family?
It's just a really weird concept right now... how much reaction is too much, too little...

Remember the Katrina victims and how some people judged them about not preparing better for the hurricane? Well, officials (city, county, canal, etc.) are trying to prepare us here in Gooding... but yesterday, I drove around and I didn't see ANYBODY loading belongings into trucks, putting sandbags out in front of their houses, etc. I went to the store and I saw only one other person putting cases of water in their cart. There weren't even that many people in the store. Do people know? Are they already prepared? Or are they just not worried? Or am I over-reacting? I guess we'll know more in a few days...

A flood in Gooding. Who knew?


John said...

Just to fair about the bridge in Alaska, it wasn't "the feds" who decided to build it. It was Alaska's Rep. Don Young, who was going to have the bridge named after himself. Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens already had Anchorage International Airport named after himself, so the two decided it was Don's turn.

Diana Rowe Pauls said...

Thanks for the clarification! My knowledge was just based upon being told that our request was attached to a bill that had so much pork attached to it (like the bridge, but probably NOT the bridge) that it wasn't being passed.

I'm always open to learning new things and being corrected...esp. when it's done as nicely as you did!