Katie & Briscoe

Katie & Briscoe

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Just to get this out of the way... I've finished my second week of radiation. I think I'm starting to notice some changes in the targeted breast, but nothing really uncomfortable so far. Did I mention that my Dr. told me that the breast that gets bombarded with radiation would wind up firmer than the other one? Just what I need. Lopsided breasts. LOL So I've got another couple of weeks of full time treatments to go, plus however many "boost" treatments she decides to give me. Almost half-way there!

I travel to Madison every single week day to get my treatments, so I've been watching the Ohio river as it has risen beyond its banks. This is hardly the worst flood the Ohio has ever seen. It was several feet higher than it is now back in 1997. I live just a few miles outside of Vevay, IN, but I couldn't get to town without going up and over the ridges. The state highway that follows the river was underwater in several places then. Here are a couple of pics I took of the highway back in 1997.
This was to the east of us.

This was to our west. There was no way to go but up!

I've seen the Ohio spread itself pretty far, so I know what's happening now isn't all that bad. Since I'm seeing it every single day, though, it's easy to notice just how far it's rising and how fast. Yesterday I stopped and took a couple of pictures. Today I took several more. Here they are.
This "road" goes out to the treeline you see in the distance. There are several trailers out there which are used for summer camping. The river is usually on the far side of the trees. Out in the water to the right of the road is a speed limit sign saying "10 MPH." I find that oddly funny.
The river is much closer to the road here than in the shot above, but the road is also at a considerably higher elevation. The water depth at the treeline is several feet.
Some time last week, as Mark and I were passing this old barge I joked that if the water got much higher, it would float away. It is normally sitting on dry ground on a massive trailer. I honestly don't know if it is even capable of floating any longer. It's been sitting there for years. And even if its hull is still water tight, I don't know if it could float with that trailer attached to its bottom. A few more feet of water and we just might find out if she's still river worthy!
This is the river at Madison, IN. That's the Milton/Madison bridge in the distance. Ground has already been broken for its replacement. The bridge opened in 1929 and is now considered "functionally obsolete." There was a great deal of discussion about how to replace the bridge, as it is the only way across the river for 26 miles upstream and 46 miles going down stream. They had talked of using a temporary ferry service while the new bridge was under construction, but common sense prevailed. A ferry would be impossible to use in waters this high and with the amount of debris that's in the river. Plus, it couldn't possibly accommodate the necessary traffic. So they decided to leave the old bridge in place while it's replacement is constructed immediately to its downriver side. Once the new bridge is up and in use, the old bridge will be removed. The construction is supposed to be finished in September of 2012. If you're interested, here's the site for the new bridge. It offers info, a pair of live web cams, and a nifty animation and video of the project.
A massive tree trunk bobbing in the swift-moving water. It was just one of many that I could see. There is undoubtedly more junk below the surface of the water. It's dangerous to be in the water at times like this.
A view upstream from the deck of the Milton/Madison Bridge.

I said I had noticed how quickly the water was rising. Day before yesterday we were watching the news and they said the river level had climbed 2 feet in 8-9 hours. That is a LOT of water! I don't think it's climbing quite that quickly now, but it did jump a foot or so in a 24 hour period and I have the pictures to prove it.

On the way home yesterday, I stopped down at the Paul W. Ogle Riverfront Park here in Vevay. This is the site of many events in Vevay. The first that comes to mind is the Swiss Wine Festival that happens here every August. There are other things that happen there, too. Like antique tractor shows, and car shows. The American Cancer Society's annual Relay of Life takes place at the park. It has a playground for children, basketball courts, baseball fields, as well as restrooms, a small grandstand area, and a large boat ramp. All of it is currently under water. Above are a few shots I took of a little car on a giant spring at the edge of the playground, one of the benches that overlooks it, and the swings. Here they are today, 24 hours later:

The car is almost completely submerged. You can just see it peeking out of the top of the water's surface in the third shot. As you can see, I couldn't even get as close to them today as I could yesterday. And they say the water isn't done rising yet. The latest predictions say it will crest at 51.7 feet around noon on Monday. As of 3:00 PM today, it was measuring at 50 feet. If you'd like to track the river's levels and NOAA's predictions for it, you can do so here.

So, now you've seen what the Ohio is doing currently. As much water as it is, as much water as there was in 1997 when the river crested at 60.7 feet, it's nothing compared to what the river has done in the past. Around here, all floods are compared to the Great Flood of 1937. Just as an FYI, the river crested at 76.1 feet in 1937. All my river depths are as reported at Markland.

Here are just a few references to help you imagine just how deep the water was during the '37 flood.
This building is located in Milton, KY, just across the river from Madison. If you look closely, you can see some wave-shaped indicators painted on the side of the building. Here's a closer view:
There are four marks. The lowest marks the 1997 flood. The next one up is from 1945. Then comes the 1964 flood. And finally, near the building's roof, is the mark indicating the water level during the flood of 1937. If these aren't enough, then take a look at what Vevay has to offer.
This is another shot of the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park in Vevay. The playground is just off to the left. The road I'm standing on normally goes straight ahead, dropping off considerably at the distant treeline to the boat ramp below. If you look closely you can see some towers just left of center of the photo. They are actually a trio of large pipes that mark the water level of the 1937 flood. The top of the pipes is how high the water was at its crest in 1937. Every time I look at them, I am just amazed that it could have gotten that high. Here's a closeup shot of the pipes from yesterday:
As you can see, we haven't actually hit flood stage at 51 feet, yet. It looks like we'll go just beyond it.

They say the 1937 flood could never be repeated. They say that the dams that have been built along the river since then would stop it. But I read a report earlier today that pointed out that at some point, the water levels get so high that all the gates are open and when that happens, there's nothing else they can do. Frankly, I find it amazing that anyone would be foolish enough to suggest that anything man-made can control God's great creation. The river floods, then recedes, then floods again. With just the right weather conditions, there's no reason to believe that the river couldn't reach such depths once again. I pray it never does. Back in 1997 practically the entire town of Falmouth, KY was swept away. It's been rebuilt, of course, but if the '97 flood could do that, then a repeat of the '37 flood would be downright devastating. There are a lot more people living along the Ohio these days. Lord help us all if the waters ever get that high again.

If anyone is interested, there are a couple of articles I came across that appeared in the "RoundAbout" guide in the past that talk about the 1937 flood. You can find the first one here, and the second one here.

And now, a quick note about the earthquakes and tsunami that have struck Japan. Mark caught it on the news this morning and mused that it seems as if there are no "small" earthquakes anymore. They're all high up on the Richter scale. I was talking with a lady in the waiting room at my radiologist's, and she said that upon hearing the news she wondered if the world was coming to an end. She was joking, but I can't bring myself to laugh. The number of natural disasters just seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Maybe it only seems that way because we have virtually instant media coverage of every single event that happens pretty much anywhere in the world. But I have to wonder if maybe God isn't trying to tell us all something. Something like, "Watch Out! Be Ready!"

Please pray for those effected by the earthquakes and the tsunamis. Almost the entire town of Kesennuma, home to 74,000 people is either burning or submerged. And then there is the possible leak of radiation from one of their nuclear plants. The Japanese media is reporting that they're already estimating the death toll to reach more than 1000 people. There are dark, hard days ahead for the Japanese people. Lift them up to God and while you're at it, give Him thanks for the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

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