Monday, January 07, 2008

The Day the Levee Broke

I woke, that afternoon, to the sound of rain and thought, "How lovely", because, growing up in or near Seattle, the sound was kinda like a comfy ole' shoe to me. My husband was at the computer (exactly where I am sitting now). I greeted him cheerfully and set about emptying the dishwasher in the kitchen. I paused occasionally to watch the rain fall and to take in our view out of the kitchen windows. (I will now attempt to insert a picture of our view here. Wish me luck!))

Tah dah!

As you can see, I can see our neighbors yard from this window. I noticed that rain was pooling in her yard. I wondered momentarily if there was any danger of it getting into their house. Then I walked to our patio doors to the left, pulled aside the curtains and checked the rain level in our yard. I could tell that some rain was not being absorbed on a few spots of our lawn. We have had to reduce the time that our automatic sprinkler system waters this area because of that, so that wasn't a worry. I turned around and sat down to work on the puzzle spread out on our table. It was a Christmas gift (1000 pieces), that my husband decided we should "do" the day before. That was the end of my thoughts of danger. It continued to rain heavily. At 11 minutes to midnight I set the microwave alarm so I could sing Happy Birthday to my husband. I went to bed about 4 am or so (as usual) and my husband stayed up a little later. I woke at 6:17 to the sound of a helicopter. I went potty, then back to bed wondering about the helicopter. The sound of helicopters woke me again about nine and then once more around noon when I got up.

I got on the computer and started to blog. I wrote a birthday post. The birthday boy got up and I sang Happy Birthday to him again. Then his Mommy called. Moments after he hung up our daughter called (1:47pm) and he answered. He thought she was being silly when she asked if our house was flooded. He called to me, "Lucky says the national news says that 35,000 (I am so sure I heard 35,000 though my husband later insisted that he said 35 hundred) homes were flooded in Fernley, Nevada when a levee broke".

From the table where I was back working on the puzzle, I said, "Wow, that must be what all the helicopters were about"!

He said, "What, helicopters". I told him about all the helicopters I'd heard. After he got off the phone I also told him about the rain pooling in our neighbors yard. He got on the computer and read aloud the news. Sure enough a levee had broken through at 4:30am and flooded an area of about a mile in our town.

We immediately assumed that it had happened in an area on the other side of town from us, where, before we bought our present home in Fernley, we were actually under contract to have a home built on half an acre adjacent to the "canal", for less than 24 hours. We canceled it because my husband wasn't comfortable with the one sided terms of the builders contract.

It began to snow hugely. We had planned to drive the little over thirty miles into Reno for my husbands Birthday dinner, like I said in my last post. We decided to get ready to go (Shower, dress, makeup, hair) and then decide. The streets were clear when we were both presentable. So, off we went.

Just past the third entrance onto the freeway a portable sign flashed saying,"accident ahead, Caution". We drove for 25 or more miles without seeing any accident, so we figured they must have cleared away the accident and forgot to take down the sign. Wrong. Screech.......

I don't know if you remember the graduation we were unable to attend because of the wildfires. This was very near the same stretch of freeway. The right lane was full of semi's for several miles. The left lane was creeping then stopping, creeping then stopping. My husband said, "Well, it's a good thing I didn't have to go to work and we don't have to be anywhere, like you know when".

I said, "I was thinking the same thing".

By the time we reached the scene of the accident it was pretty much cleared away. We wouldn't know until the next day that it had been a 17 car pile-up in which 3 people were injured.

It was not until the next day, also, that I was able to find out where the break in the levee had occurred, by following links on the computer. I also saved some pictures and will now attempt to post them now, though they may appear at the top again:0)

Wow. That was an exciting challenge.

Today I followed the "canal" on the Google satellite map. I believe I found the place where the levee broke because the water changes color only in that spot. And it is my uneducated but highly intuitive guess that the reason the levee broke is because for whatever reason the depth of the levee in that spot was not as deep, possibly because of sediment build up, because someone dumped something there or gophers.

I wondered how we could help. There were announcements on TV saying not to go near the area so as not to get in the way. They announced that they had enough clothing, blankets and coats. Good thoughts and prayers are always helpful though.


  1. Those poor people - it'll take months to dry out their homes. I hope they had insurance. A birthday to remember, for sure.

  2. z-we are not in a flood area, so few if any would think there was a need for flood insurance. The canal was built to irrigate farms around 1930 or earlier. Less than 10 years ago Fernley had a population of around 2,000. Today the population is over 20,000. With all those new roofs, there isn't as much area for the moisture to soak into when it rains.

  3. Good job on posting pics!!! Woot woot! Darnit that they keep loading at the TOP of the story and not where you want them. I've found that I like to upload all the pics then type around them, putting them in the order I wish.

  4. I thought about that after, but there must be a way?

  5. there is a way to add the pictures without putting them on the you have different options when you post your pics (normally it says 'right' 'left' 'middle' or 'none'.)

    If you choose NONE then you can move and drag the pictures to where you want them.

    Good luck. And great post.

  6. that girl-thank you, thank you. I can't wait to post more pictures and put them in their place!

  7. Wow, those pictures are sobering. Glad you all were OK>

  8. Wow! Those poor people. So many houses have been built lately in flood zones. The houses are more affordable (wonder why), but it is a risk. We are careful as we home shop and have found builders are not always open about the risks... Too bad.



A pony for your thoughts.