Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When it rains it pours

So Thursday evening last week I was supposed to go to book club about 20 minutes away, but part way there I had several signs that it might not be the smartest move, so I turned around and came home. Little did I know that the danger wasn't where I was headed, it was to my home. Not even an hour later we had self evacuated with no notice (aka grab kids, the baby's carseat, the dogs, get out into the truck, worry about seatbelts and installed carseats down the road while the driveway is still somewhat passable while fearing for the house's future) due to extremely heavy rains bringing debris flows down off the hillside to our north.
As the flood waters moved across the alfalfa field next door.

One flow came down headed for our garage, and split, coming down our driveway, across the chicken yard, through the side garden, and down on through the pig area. The other part of that flow veered to the other side of the garage, and went down the field there to join with the stuff coming out the bottom and side of the pig area. Another flow came down just on the other side of our property, and curved in and took out our lower garden. Then the creek and some irrigation lakes let loose and the bottom and middle fields flooded, and were covered with silt and mud.
Blurry photo of the entire alfalfa field covered in flood waters, as darkness fell on the landscape and the heavy rain finally started to let up a bit.

When we left for the first time that evening, we didn't get far. Another much larger flow had eroded the road, and was mohawking water, mud, rocks, and other debris. We call the drainage up above it big valley for a reason, but we've never seen it flow at all, let alone that much. Later on, after returning to our luckily still standing and not impacted house, we were evacuated again by the county, as they were concerned about not knowing whether all of the irrigation dams had blown, or what was in store for the rest of the night. We went to a coworkers cabin and spent a restless night, returning in the morning to find all animals accounted for, although pens and gardens were all rather the worse for wear.

Debris flows on the left of this picture met at the bottom of the garden with the flood waters, which swept across the entire lower and part of the middle field, bending fence posts clear to the ground if they weren't swept away entirely.

We've mostly dug the salvageable produce out of the gardens, but clearing the 1.5-2 foot deep sand/silt/debris off the top may have to wait until we know more about whether/how often these flows will happen in the next few years before the burned areas revegetate.
flows swept through the chicken runs, underneath the chicken coop, through the garden, pig pen, and then down to meet with the flood waters.
We are hoping that this rainstorm, which produced the heaviest sustained rain (about 2 hours of steady very very heavy rain, perhaps the heaviest we have seen here), and which got stuck for several hours on top of us/the drainages that feed down to us, was an anomaly, but we aren't sure how optimistic to be at this point.
The lower garden was covered in about 18 inches plus of debris and sand, totalling squash, zucchini, lettuce, and making harvest of onions, leeks, carrots, and potatoes extremely challenging. Not to mention knocking down and covering the garden fencing.

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