Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Story of My Life...

Have you ever had one of "those" days? One that was supposed to be nice and calm, without any high seas, rough waters or capsizings?

Our little corner of the world, near Seattle, Washington, is getting ready for one such day. Except it's supposed to last throughout the winter. And, not just this winter, but maybe the next 3 to 5 winters. Oh, goody.

The Howard Hanson Dam was built at the headwaters of the Green River in Washington State by the Army Corps of Engineers in the mid-1960's. It was a stunning success and alleviated the devastating flooding that happened every year in the Green River Valley. The flooding wiped out farmsteads and inconvenienced the day to day existence of that sleepy little part of the countryside. Farmers planted wet weather crops. Homeowners knew not to buy acreage in the valley for their dream home.

Then the dam came and life became normal. Life expected some rain but the rain was curbed up high in the mountains at the dam. Life grew in the valley, businesses moved in, mega farms erupted in the rich soil, huge subdivisions sprouted up everywhere, filled with families with their normal lives.

Last winter we had record breaking rain in January and a small breach occurred in the right abutment of the Howard Hanson Dam. "Hmmm," said the Army Corps. "What should we do about that?" Dye packets were placed above the breach and hydrologists watched as the dye showed up downstream, having made it's way through the dam. "Hmmm," again.

So the valley prepares for the flood. The valley includes some of the largest cities in western Washington, extensive government buildings and miles and miles of warehouses. Businesses and tens of thousands of people will have their lives turned un-normal. New Orleans will be a model of what NOT to do, Fargo, North Dakota will be a model of what TO do. Hopefully the folks in the Green River Valley will care more about their neighbors than themselves...and join together against the flood.

Time will tell.

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