Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rainy Walmart Drive With Mom To A Mallard Cove Mystery

When I was a young lad I recollect on days like this my mom would sing a song part of which went something like "rain rain go away, come again another day..."

Since Thanksgiving Texas has been reminding me of what a Washington winter can be like. Day after day after day after day after day of rain.

And cold.

But there is one HUGE difference. When the rain in Washington finally stops and the sky is once again blue you look in just about any direction and you see these things called mountains, snow-capped, this time of year. If the sky ever turns blue again, at my current location, no matter which direction I look I will not be seeing any snow-capped mountains.

I tried going jogging this morning. That did not go well after a downpour started getting me extra wet. About an hour before noon I texted my mom and dad to ask "Are you kids home and by the phone?" My dad texted back with a "Yes".

So, I called and asked mom if she wanted to ride to Walmart with me in the rain. Mom was onboard for the Walmart trip.

I got gas a couple days ago but it was not convenient to call my mom, like I usually do, when I get gas, to tell mom how much it cost. That and usually also mentioning the temperature.

After I finished my walk around Walmart I returned to Mallard Cove Park for the third day in a row. I figured the flood would be flooding much higher, what with a lot of rain continuing to fall.

Instead, when Mallard Cove came in to view I was surprised to see the water had receded quite a distance. Today's photo through the rain spattered windshield sort of shows you the Mallard Cove reduction, compared to the photos from Friday and Saturday.

Why has the river level gone down whilst rain still falls in copious amounts?

If this were in the aforementioned Washington, in my old home zone of the Skagit Valley, when the flooding Skagit River suddenly drops it means only one thing. A dike downstream has broken.

I remember a flood event back in the early 1990s. The storm that sank one of the Lake Washington floating bridges. Downtown Mount Vernon was in major emergency mode. An army of locals poured into downtown to help sandbag, along with a couple hundred servicemen from the Whidbey Island Naval Station. Or was it the National Guard?

I remember I was at home, about midnight, watching the flood news on TV, when the coverage went live to Mount Vernon, where the KING 5 news guy was making it sound like hundreds of people were making their way to downtown to save the library.

It was about a three mile drive from my abode to downtown Mount Vernon. About 15 minutes after hearing the library was in danger I was parking on a hill above downtown and making my way to the library.

Where I learned the library was not in actual immediate danger, but was ground zero for sand bag filling operations, I was told they had plenty of sandbaggers, but able bodied sorts were needed on the revetment (think dike with a parking lot on top) to help build a sand bag wall.

Soon I  found myself in a bucket  brigade type operation. This went on for a couple hours til about a 5 foot wall extended the length of downtown.

The river was predicted to crest around noon, if I remember right. It was expected to topple over the sandbag wall, by a slight amount, hopefully not enough to flood downtown Mount Vernon, which is sort of like New Orleans, as in below the river level when it is in flood mode.

So, before the expected crest I made my way to downtown Mount Vernon again, along with a lot of other people. We were kept a distance away, safe from a catastrophic flood wall failure. We watched as the river rose higher and higher, reaching to the top of the sandbag wall, then starting to go over the wall in spots.

Then, suddenly the water level dropped by a foot, or more.

What happened? No one knew. Soon emergency sirens were wailing. Helicopters were in the air.

I do not remember how long it was before it was known that the dike had broken downriver a couple miles, about a 200 foot breech in the dike that protected Fir Island from a flooding Skagit River.

When the Skagit River reaches Fir Island it splits into two forks, the north and the south forks of the Skagit River. The west side of Fir Island is a body of water known as Skagit Bay, which is part of another body of water known as Puget Sound.

Those reading this who live in the environs of Fort Worth, Fir Island is a real island, surrounded on all sides by moving water. There are two bridges that cross the Skagit River on to Fir Island. Both built in well under four years, and both built over a wide deep river, not dry land.

Those reading this who do not live in the environs of Fort Worth, who are wondering why I am explaining Fir Island's island status and bridges, well, here in Fort Worth we have this pseudo public works project which has been boondoggling along for almost all of this century, with very little to show for the effort.

This project has gone by many names. Currently it is the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island Vision.

Known by many as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Over a year ago The Boondoggle had a big celebration to celebrate the supposed start of construction on its three simple little bridges being built over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

A month or so ago The Boondoggle launched a publicity propaganda burst to proudly share the news that wooden forms were able to be seen being constructed at the location where the only one of the three bridges is currently sort of under construction.

I think I got off subject.

So, the breech in the Fir Island dike caused the Skagit River to flood Fir Island, doing a lot of damage.

When the river receded the dike was quickly repaired. Then, two weeks later, another storm caused another flood. The sandbag wall was still in place. Once again the river rose to a level which was going to top the sandbag wall and once again the Fir Island dike broke. This time not as catastrophically, because the damage  had already been done two weeks previous.

So, what caused the water level in Mallard Cove to drop since yesterday? I drove no further east, on Randol Mill Road, than Mallard Cove. That road is a bit of a pot holed bump fest to drive on any old time. With the flooding driving that road becomes a bit treacherous, what with flooding creeks rushing water over the road and deep puddles.

The sky is actually looking brighter right now than it has in days. Is the gray coming to an end? Will blue sky return tomorrow with clear views of the gorgeous surrounding landscape....

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