Sunday, March 04, 2007

Be Nice To Us, Elmira

I think they had a few days of warm weather up in Elmira. Apparently, it’s been cold there and, aside from the warm period, back to cold again. That’s just a guess from checking the river gage down by the courthouse.

We’ve all had a lot of snow, but the river stayed around two feet, even dropping a few inches late last week. It started going up, fast, Saturday. Not a lot, but fast. Up from two feet to thirteen, then down to seven. That indicates some warm weather in the southern tier of New York State two days ago.

The natural riverbank (“flood stage”) is 22 feet; the dikes protect us to 41 feet and anything above that turns River Street into, well, a river. One day, the river was just about at the top of the dike, within a foot and maybe closer. I remarked that if one more person in the southern tier flushed their toilet, we’d have a flood here.

I’ve been here for a few “up to the top,” as well as a lot of “kinda close to the top” river events. For two of the near-misses, everybody who didn’t live on a hill had to get out until it dropped down.

It’s not always an overflow, as much as the dikes might break, as has happened before. You don’t need that much water with that much strength suddenly breaking through a dike. It happened before, in 1972, and took a cemetery with it. People were finding caskets in their homes when they returned to clean up the mess and get on with life. You don’t need that.


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