Monday, January 25, 2010

Flooded Towns and Leaky Roofs


The rain fell last night in a torrent. I awoke several times throughout the night to hear that the storm had not subsided, but had increased its intensity. As the sky grew lighter, the rain finally let up to a light drizzle. Out the window, the eight inches of frozen snow and ice that had covered the landscape was gone and rivers of water poured over the exposed rock and grass. Living at the top of the mountain, at the head of the watershed, pondering the volume of water flowing away from you doesn't not create the fear it would if you lived 25 miles downstream; It creates concern for those below you.

Schools were closed in all surrounding counties. Marlinton was closed to all traffic. Rivers everywhere had left or were about to leave their banks. The Greenbrier Valley seemed to be getting hit the hardest. The most familiar part of the Greenbrier to most is the calm, wide river that flows through Cass and Marlinton, past Watoga State Park and towards Lewisburg. The economy of the surrounding communities seems to be based on the tourism that the river brings. The Greenbrier River Trail is a favorite to many and the river is canoed and fished by thousands of people every year.

The Greenbrier River comes together in Durbin, WV at the confluence of its two largest tributaries, the East Fork and West Fork of the Greenbrier. Both rivers are of substantial size and hold fantastic populations of trout. Following either tributary North takes you through deep canyons and into a high country that is lightly travelled. The East Fork begins in high elevation wetlands that are home to rare species of Canadian plants, Balsam Fir and Spruce. As it flows, the river gradually widens, takes on more water, and quickly becomes a fantastic Brown Trout fishery. The high elevations of this watershed were, until last night covered with same 8 inches of snow and ice that Spruce Knob was covered in.

By noon today, all of this water flowed through Main Street in Marlinton. The river didn't crest as high as initially predicted, however, as the water recedes, the damage is becoming evident. The Pocahontas County Times (http://www.pocahontastimes.com/) and Allegheny Mountain Radio http://www.alleghenymountainradio.org/are providing updates on the status of the river and those affected.

The affects of the storm on Spruce Knob are minimal compared to those downstream, but still inconvenient. At 8:00 this morning, the Earth Sheltered Office was leaking in about 15 spots and reiterated a fact that we already know. We need a new roof. We'll keep saving money and collecting donations, and hopefully by next summer, we can put a solid top on the office. Until then, we'll keep catching the leaks and running the dehumidifiers.

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