Sunday, January 01, 2006

After the flood...'s been a little while since my last post. A lot of stuff happened. Mostly, the holidays, wherein I had some time off, went back east to see the fam and my friends. Blah blah.

Anyways Napa flooded. Floods are crazy. I'm new to this, having come from the relatively disaster-free northeast. Aside from a couple of hurricanes, none of which caused any major damage, I haven't seen any real FEMA-level disasters firsthand.

Well it seems like we're going to be spared any FEMA intervention, but a lot of Napa flooded. Yountville and St. Helena, towns upvalley of us, are effectively cut off and there's major damage. A lot of the town of Napa, where we live, is flooded near the river...about two blocks from us to the east. There's probably about 10-20 feet of elevation, and the plain flattens out around there, so I think that we're relatively safe, for this one, at least.

Brett took this picture yesterday, when there was some sun between the two storms. This guy was letting his kids play in the floodwaters...I guess that the fact that his were the only kids playing in the water didn't make him stop to think. After they walked out pretty far in the rushing waters, somebody whistled and told them to come back, at which point Dad told everybody that it was OK, he knows what's safe for his kids. For my part, I couldn't stop thinking about this John McPhee story I read in the New Yorker a long time ago about how he was on a canoe trip as a kid and this other kid drowned. The unlucky kid got his foot caught between two rocks so his face was underwater and his lungs were filled with water in seconds. It took two days and a rescue helicopter to recover his body. Luckily, we didn't witness anything like that, despite dad's best efforts.

Those vines behind the kids are underwater. Cameron Stark, my old boss at Unionville Vineyards, said that wine country was slowly reverting to the swampland it was before California was strip-mined in the nineteenth century, thanks in part to global warming. Today as we drove back along highway 29 and looked out over the entire lover valley, completely flooded, it seemed easier to believe than in the dry summer months.

Oh, and I found this when I was looking for flood information earlier. Yeah. Thanks for calling me an idiot because the valley gets flash floods for a couple days every five years. At least my city isn't built on sinking silt from the Mississippi. If you ask me, though, the idiots are still the ones who don't fund river control and levee operations. Napa's flood control construction is, just like New Orleans', years behind schedule because of state and federal budget cuts. Oops.
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