Sunday, March 1, 2009

How High's the Water, Mama?

It was indeed "two feet high and risin'" around here. (I hope you all go find that Johnny Cash song now).

There are two disasters that all Alaskans fear during the winter months, fire and flood. Unfortunately for our neighborhood last night, Noah couldn't have saved some of us...

Somehow I missed the subtle noises of the diesel trucks as they cruised up and down the street (this is Alaska, after all, and the sound of diesel trucks is subliminal). I had been working downstairs, and when I finally emerged around 9 p.m found a cadre of firefighters inspecting the hydrant across the street. Never a good sign. It wasn't until my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I could see that the huge truck was up to its wheel wells in water that I really began to worry.

Water does not normally flow down the street, even in Alaska. For water to do so after six inches of fresh snow and nighttime temperatures hovering around the 5 degree mark meant disaster.

A hydrant around the corner from us had burst and caused thousands of gallons of H2O to gush up one side, around the corner, and down to our little 'hood. As we watched from the upstairs window the current of sludgy, slushy water kept creeping ever closer to our driveway. Neighbors were frantically moving vehicles to higher ground, and people not fortunate to live on slight inclines were finding a foot or two of freezing water flowing through their lower levels.

The photos above illustrate the view last night and this morning. What happens when two feet of water freezes in the middle of the street? Ice Road Truckers.

Needless to say, the damage to some houses was catastophic. Many spent this sunny day pushing, shoveling, and otherwise moving tons of muddy ice into the street, and salvaging what items they could.

Thankfully the City provided three huge graders to come scrape the street to save us from ourselves.

No shortage of excitement around here, clearly.

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