Sunday, June 30, 2013

And the Hits Keep Coming

Back in the 1950s folks were pretty sharp.  That's why my small town has a power substation protected by a massive fifteen foot high dike between it and the local river. And it's no simple earthen berm, but a fully reinforced bulwark used as the foundation of a state highway.   The river can get a little rambunctious so they prudently planned on keeping the power on even if the river should top it's previous high water mark during flooding.

What they didn't plan on is the water coming from the other direction. 

Early Friday morning a freak storm dumped about four inches of rainfall on the area between midnight and 6 AM.  That, unfortunately, followed a week of steady showers that had already saturated the ground.  Around 5 AM three small creeks that run through town, and drain roughly 24 square miles of hill country above the valley, jumped their banks and went for a bit of a morning walkabout. The water came roaring through the streets, overwhelming the storm drains and flooding roughly half the town.  Including that wonderfully well protected power substation, surrounded by a protective wall that would keep it safe and dry during even the worst river flooding.  Except the wall only covered three sides and the water wasn't coming from the direction of the river.  It was rollin' down Main Street and right into the "protected" dike area.

From all accounts the results were quite spectacular, particularly when six feet of water flowed into the massive transformers.  Nothing big blew up, which we should probably be thankful for considering the largest ones are ten feet high.  But a transformer the size of a hefty microwave can sure make a bang when it goes.

So the entire town has been without power since Friday morning.  Our house didn't suffer any flood damage, but not having electricity has been a major hassle.  Hopefully we'll have some juice later today, but for now I'm sponging off the WiFi at Denny's to explain why things might be a bit light for a while.

Upstate New York is supposed to be a bucolic enclave where nothing every really happens.  Having two disasters in one year is seriously harshing our mellow. 

9 comments:

gndn said...

Sorry to hear that.

My mom was without power for three days after a nasty storm. Worst I've ever had was a few hours.


-Mike J.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, the rain this spring has been kinda amazing for it's insistence on keep raining. I'm very amazed we haven't had similar flooding in MA. (like we did in 2005, 2006, and I think 2008). Part of the problem seems to be the drainage/mitigation systems built in the 50s didn't take into consideration the sheer amount of parking lots and asphalt roads we have now, so there's less natural drainage.

Best of luck and I hope they get the power back on soon! Glad to hear you aren't bailing water.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, the rain this spring has been kinda amazing for it's insistence on keep raining. I'm very amazed we haven't had similar flooding in MA. (like we did in 2005, 2006, and I think 2008). Part of the problem seems to be the drainage/mitigation systems built in the 50s didn't take into consideration the sheer amount of parking lots and asphalt roads we have now, so there's less natural drainage.

Best of luck and I hope they get the power back on soon! Glad to hear you aren't bailing water.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, the rain this spring has been kinda amazing for it's insistence on keep raining. I'm very amazed we haven't had similar flooding in MA. (like we did in 2005, 2006, and I think 2008). Part of the problem seems to be the drainage/mitigation systems built in the 50s didn't take into consideration the sheer amount of parking lots and asphalt roads we have now, so there's less natural drainage.

Best of luck and I hope they get the power back on soon! Glad to hear you aren't bailing water.

Jeff said...

Glad you are ok hopefully you will have power again soon.

JJ

CoastConFan said...

You get done what you need to do, Propnomicon and don’t worry much about the blogging. I know your town has been going through some rough times, generally most of them unexpected. Reality has this way of breaking in on the fun, but I am glad you and your family are safe. On the good side, I am sure that the neighborhood is pulling together during this rough patch, as neighborhoods generally do when faced with adversity. We saw a lot of selflessness and good spirit just after Hurricane Katrina and I expect that your folks will do the same. Don’t sweat the small stuff like blogging, we all know you are slogging along like a trooper. And yay for Denny’s it was one of the very few restaurants up and running (limited menu) after our storm.

SavageGoldfish said...

Better an aggravating power outage than flood damage though! Hope you get everything sorted out soon and the town can get itself taken care of.

Southwest PA, where I live, is sort of the same--that area where nothing major ever happens. But when I was a teenager the whole town flooded enormously two years in a row, and a few years after that tornado-force winds wreaked some serious havoc. Split huge old trees like twigs.

Joseph White said...

Ouch!

That sounds like it sucks pretty bad. Hope you're doing alright and hope things straighten out for you soon.

Anonymous said...

Ach, you get to experience the fun us “down-state” New Yorkers have with our hurricanes! Good luck & I hope your power company is better than LIPA!