Thursday, March 20, 2008

Disaster Tourism without Even Leaving Home

Today we had the cheap thrill of being disaster tourists here in my little town in Southeast Ohio, which like much of the state is watching the water rise. Our local flooding has been pretty harmless thus far. So my family and I are enjoying the excitement of watching a slow-mo disaster that - fortunately - isn't one.

Here's where the bike path merges with the Hocking River. A developer, National Church Residences, wants to build a retirement center just a few feet away from here. We hope they're prepared to supply a fleet of lifeboats for the residents.

This is the bike path diving into the Hocking again, here right next to the sewage treatment plant. (Too bad there's no scratch-and-sniff feature on the Web.)

The marker shows the water level next to the sewage plant at 11 a.m. ...

... and again at 7 p.m. Note that the volleyball net is now low enough even for a klutz like me.

That's not a puddle, folks. That's the Hocking River. When our Wal-Mart moved in a few years ago, part of the local opposition centered on its location in the floodplain. And now, here's what happens when you pave over the area where nature intended the river to naturally escape its banks. If you drive through this little tributary fast enough, you provide fabulous entertainment for the children in the backseat. As a bonus you get what a friend of mine called an "Appalachian car wash." Which in our case actually left the car cleaner.

The Tiger likes to play here when it's not threatening to become a new water park. (The city pool is conveniently located just a few feet to the right of the photo.)

Here's why one of the elementary schools closed down yesterday and today.

This is actually not a lake, no matter what your eyes tell you. It's not even a river. It's just a creek. Or it was, anyway.

And here's how you get to work if you live next to that creek, assuming you're prepared for this sort of thing, as these folks evidently did.

We're grateful that everyone's safe here, so far. Any basement flooding is coming from our oversaturated soil, not from the river. The Hocking River was expected to crest this evening, though more rain is in the forecast; we're hoping it passes us by. At the risk of sounding preachy: I hope developers might take this as a reminder that we need to preserve the precious remnants of our floodplain, and not just pave paradise, put up a parking lot.

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