The skies were dark, but there were no flash flood warnings. We planned to go dancing when we finished our dinner, but when the heavens opened up and twenty minutes later we had received 1 1/2″ of rain and hail, we reconsidered. Fifteen minutes after that, our back yard was full of runoff, and a gully next to our home was a small pond. None of the local news outlets seemed aware of the intensity of the event just yet. One of my neighbors posted on a news FB page about the amount of rain we received, but it still took a while for anyone who didn’t experience it to recognize the implications.
Half an hour after that, the highway that leads to our town was a river. Cars were washed away and one man was killed.
People used to accuse the local news media of hyping the flash-flood threat. Not anymore. Experiencing disaster so close to home has made believers out of us. That said, this one wasn’t predicted. If the timing had been different, we might have gone dancing and gotten trapped in town.
Bob and I had spent a tidy sum of money mitigating our yard so if water came down like it did Friday, it would go where we want it to. Friday was a big test, and the water cascaded past our house and shed into the gully. I’m glad we took the threat seriously in advance. If we hadn’t built the diversion in our back yard, we’d still be here, but we would have spent our weekend shoveling mud out of our home.
It changes things when you know that something so simple as a small amount of rain can cause so much havoc. Now I review the weather reports even before I go out for a hike, because the trails behind us do flash-flood. I’ve never seen it happen, but I do see evidence of it with every rain we get. The gravel rivers keep getting higher and wider.
Now that someone was killed, everyone takes the situation more seriously. The area made national news. However, they make no mention of why the rain is such a threat to us now. Last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire burned the vegetation that would slow rain water down. Some of the landscapes are like fired pottery – and totally resistant to water absorption.
Things do change, and people adapt. For one thing, new realities invoke new communication habits. Now, I don’t just check the FB news pages for updates. I post too. I posted about the inch and a half of rain. During the cleanup, I figured people needed to know that, although the highway was open, it took a full hour to get home instead of the normal ten minutes. If I had seen that before leaving, I’d have stayed home. It took a while for my habits to catch up with the reality.
Here’s the national news report. (Email subscribers many want to click the title to visit my site to view, or visit here.)