Friday, May 06, 2011

After the Flood

The Ohio River crested Wednesday night at 31.1 feet, below what was forecast. It is slowly falling, but still well above flood stage, which is 23 feet. Flood levels downstream from Louisville are among the highest in many years.  At Cairo, IL, where the Ohio flows into the Mississippi River, the levels are higher than the great flood of 1937. For most Louisvillians, the flood has been a minor inconvenience, except for those folks who have homes on the river itself.  A few roads have been closed, but most people were unaffected.  They have postponed the annual Steamboat Race which normally would have been run on Wednesday (yes, this is Derby Week).  With the river this high and full of debris, it just wouldn't be safe.

Here are more views taken from the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

The gates on McAlpine Dam are completely open, lifted up and away from the water. I've seen a photo of a towboat and barges going right over this dam once, rather than using the locks on the other side.  The water was high enough to go over the dam, but he took a chance of running into the railroad trestle.

The willows growing just beneath the dam are completely covered.

Here is the same area under normal conditions.  You can see the gates on the dam are in a closed position, letting out only a small amount of water, and willow trees are growing in the sand.

These are the two sycamore trees growing on the Upper Fossil Beds at the Falls.

Debris is the big problem after flooding like this.  You can easily see the high water mark, a combination of logs, plastic bottles and Styrofoam left on the banks after the water started to recede.

We don't usually do anything about the logs after a flood.  If we cut them up and throw them back in the river, people downstream complain about it.  They will float away next year when the river rises.  The real problem is all the plastic, car tires, Styrofoam, coolers, and refrigerators which now clutter the recreational and native habitat areas.  The River Sweep won't be until June 18th, but the call has gone out for volunteers to come now and get a start on this mess.  Just try counting the plastic bottles in this photo of perhaps 4 feet of shoreline, then do the math for 1,000 miles of Ohio River, and double that to include both shores.
Wildlife is affected by the debris as well.  A pair of Canada Geese honked forlornly, looking for a calm place in which to swim.  The current is swift and the shores are full of logs.  They eventually flew up to the railroad trestle to reconnoiter - a place I have have seen geese before.  The debris must attract large numbers of insects though, because the swallows were have a feast.

But this Song Sparrow didn't seem dismayed.  He found a high and dry spot to sing his song, no matter what.  I must admit it cheered me up too.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Very good image of what ithas been like for those of us here. The flooding is bad enough as a natural disaster...the litter is just plane awful, that people throw their garbage and then this kind of thing happens and you are just showing a tiny bit of it...wow!

Wondering...can you still view my blog? Two have said it is either blocked, or they can no longer access it...how frustrating~