Friday, June 2, 2006

Calm during flooding


Drought had become such a norm in the Wood River Valley that, yes, few expected or were prepared for this year's spring snow melt that turned the Big Wood River and nearby streams into violent torrents and spectacular overflows from Magic Reservoir.

But calm prevailed throughout, largely because of the quick, thorough and levelheaded response of the county's police, fire and rescue emergency services as well as private firms promptly attacking and removing debris.

Some homes were evacuated briefly. Sandbags quickly appeared for emergency use, just in case. The Deer Creek bridge was smacked hard and badly damaged. Owners of residential wells were cautioned about contamination. Municipal wells were given shots of chlorine.

Park areas where the Big Wood was most dangerous were wisely sealed off and visitors and residents advised to enjoy the spectacle from a distance.

If this year's runoff was a sight to behold and was destructive of banks and vegetation, remember the plus side: the record abundance of water will help recharge the aquifer on which the valley relies as well as providing farmers and ranchers with water that has been skimpy for several years.

What role, if any, climate change plays in this sort of unusual weather is something for the scientists to sort out.

But local officials and residents now have under their belts a job well done in dealing with the Big Wood literally gone wild, and thus are better prepared if a repeat of this year is in our future.




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