Tuesday, October 20, 2015

365 True Things: 205/Floods

Had dinner with some friends this evening, and we were revisiting the floods of 1995—one of the last good El Niños we've had. January and March of that year both had lots of rain, and at one point, on March 13, 63 roads and 15 bridges were closed.

The Highway 1 bridge over the Carmel River—access to Big Sur—was washed out on the 10th. Residents of Carmel Highlands now had a 6.5-hour detour to get to the Safeway grocery store on the other side of the bridge. Though I suppose the market in Cambria was (figuratively? literally? virtually?) closer. If mudslides didn't block their way.

Carmel River bridge no more

In any case, for a good 24-hour period, Monterey Peninsula was figuratively/literally/virtually an island.

Pajaro River: Monterey/Santa Cruz county line

That evening, we had intended to drive to Santa Cruz to spend the evening with a friend, but once we got on Highway 1 northbound, traffic was at a standstill. We decided to bag it.

Good thing, because we wouldn't have been able to get home—to our cat— for a couple of days. 

Salinas River gobbles up Highway 68

As for Highway 1 southbound, within a week a military "Bailey bridge" had been constructed. Our dinner companion Tim, a deputy sheriff, was on duty there during that week and talked about how efficiently the soldiers soldiered that beast into place, sectioning it together until it reached across the river and could be plunked down. Meanwhile, a new permanent bridge was designed; it opened on May 5, and construction was completed by September.

Building the Bailey bridge

I recall running into some friends of ours during that wet, wet weekend, while driving some back roads, marveling at the havoc (the forests got pretty thrashed as well). They were from Vermont/ Massachusetts and had often—like, every time we saw them— mentioned how dry California is. I just had to ask, given that we were now an island, "Is it wet enough for you now?"

There is talk of this coming winter being another wet one. A big El Niño is on its way, "too big not to happen." The question still remains whether it will affect mostly Southern California, or whether we'll get it too.

I hope we get it. It will be such a relief to have rain, rain, and more rain. Since I don't live on a floodplain, I can even say I wouldn't mind a little flooding (which after all is a natural phenomenon—I just hope people who own homes in floodplains have flood insurance). And I sure hope, if we do get rain, that it comes on cold weather systems, because what this state really needs is snow. In the mountains.

Snowpack is what quenches this state's thirst.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, it's coming. If the dozen hurricanes that swirled in the Central Pacific around Hawaii is any indication, you might want to invest in a life raft. And stick close to home.