Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Power of Moving Water

Spread your arms out sideways and your hands will be roughly one meter apart.  Use that span to sculpt an imaginary cube measuring one meter on each side, which would represent a cubic meter, more or less.  If you could fill such a cube with water, it would weigh a metric ton. 

Now imagine setting millions of those water-cubes in motion. 
That's one way to get a clearer sense of why last week's floods were so destructive.

Here are photos from the Ausable Valley, taken last Saturday, which show some of what the Ausable River did when Irene's downpours forced it out of its channel.

Between Jay and Ausable Forks, the entrance to Fred's Auto Repair suggests that the river, which is now barely visible  in the background, rose eight feet above the road during the storm. Notice the level of the "former record flood" from last spring, indicated in blue.

 Farther down the road, you can see where water ripped up the access ramp to a steel bridge that spans the river.

Bridge closed, indeed.

The debris that still lies on top of the bridge shows that the river flowed right over it.  That would have required quite a rise above the normal level, as this photo illustrates
(see Kary for scale  in the photo below).

Splintered wood clogs the underside of the bridge, as well. 
Amazingly, the bridge withstood that tremendous pressure.

This bridge in Ausable Forks was also overtopped
(photos below by Kary Johnson).

You can see roiling currents seemingly frozen in time by the vegetation where the river overran its banks.  Photos like this one (below) can look like they were taken in the midst of a storm, though the day was virtually windless. 

I walked into a grove of saplings by the side of the road where the trees were caked with weeds and trash reaching higher than my head (I'm 5' 10"" tall).

You can find similar sights right in the midst of homes and businesses, like here in Upper Jay (below).  Small wonder that the flood did so much damage here.
(see the previous posts).

Somehow, people are still managing to find sparks of humor in the midst of their losses,
as the wall at Fred's Auto Repair attests (below). 

But how likely is this request, "don't come back," to be fulfilled? 

I'll be looking into that for a forthcoming post.

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