Thursday, January 8, 2009

The rains came down and the floods came up

This is Fishtrap Creek yesterday morning just before I went to work. It's a little blurry because I couldn't use the flash (that just lit up the deck).

I don't have a more recent picture because it was fully dark by the time I got home. However, it continued to rain all day, and more snow melted and the creek continued to rise.

I'm awake now because in a moment of waking I realized I could hear that water flowing by. I looked out my window in the dark, but did not open the door because I did not want to wake up my folks. But then I heard someone upstairs and went up, and it was my dad putting on his coat. He went out on the upper deck with a flashlight to see what he could see.

I told him I read on the internet that the rivers were supposed to crest by 4:00 a.m. It was 3:45 as we were talking. He couldn't tell for sure, but he thought the water might have gone down a bit. He said it had stopped raining. I didn't go out on the deck with him because I had bare feet.

We said what a good thing he had that retaining wall put in all those years ago. Last night as we all went to bed, his concern was that water might seep into the ground under the house. As far as we know, that has not happened.

I said I had seen on the internet that you can get sandbags, but you have to bring your own truck to get them and your own shovel to fill them. Plus I said it was probably too late for that. He thought the retaining wall made us not need sandbags. Even before the retaining wall, the water never came up to the house. I wonder if this is the highest the creek has been. Dad said last night it was just touching the wall.

Fishtrap Creek doesn't always flood when the Nooksack River does. The creek is not fed by mountain snows. However, if a lot of snow falls around here and then is followed by rain that melts the snow, then the creek rises and may overflow its banks. We had a lot of snow over the holidays, and for the past day or so have had a lot of rain.

I had to take an alternate route home last night from work. I usually take the Hannegan, but even when I was on my way to work in the morning, there was water flowing over the road at the base of the big hill just north of the Sunset-Hannegan intersection. Public workers were already closing the road to northbound traffic, and I thought they would probably shortly have to close it southbound as well.

By the time I left work, I saw on the Whatcom County road closures page that the Hannegan was also closed from the Lynden city limits to Polinder Road. That would mean the Nooksack had overflowed. I heard from one source that Meridian in Bellingham was closed at the I-5 interchange but from another source that it was not. I decided to avoid the Guide and got on I-5 at Sunset and took it to the Birch Bay Lynden Road and took that into Lynden. That was a bit out of my way, but not under water. There are just so many places you can cross the Nooksack between Bellingham and Lynden. There were a couple slowdowns on the freeway where people had apparently slid off the road and cop cars were there with their lights flashing. That made everyone brake. But no harm done, I got home safely.

I guess I should try to get a little more sleep before I have to get up for work. I don't know if I will be able to sleep or not.

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