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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Drip ... Drip ... Downpour

Fact. The light from a star is years old by the time it reaches us on Earth. The Sun excluded.

More on how this applies to preparedness later.

On a less ambiguous note, you probably heard how The Monsoon was causing flooding in Flagstaff. The communities of Timberline and Doney Park and others saw the “worst” of it on July 20 when flooding and debris flows damaged homes and roads and closed Hwy 89.

I went north to help film and photograph the damage, the recovery and mitigation efforts.

Click … a home encircled by battlements of stacked sandbags.

Click … volunteer firefighters filling and stacking sandbags on pallets.
Click … a plastic chair stuck in three feet of mud.

That last photo got me in trouble. In the time it took to snap the picture, a gentle drizzle turned to rain. And at that moment, I thought about the stars and light.

The same rule that applies to stars also goes for flash flooding.
It's raining where you stand? Who cares. It’s about where that rain was before and how long ago.

Sooner or later it dawned on me to get outta there, and I hurried to get out ahead of flow coming down the mountainside. I lost the race.

Can’t go that way.

That direction’s no good either.

I think maybe I stayed too long.
I sat sandwiched between two flows of rushing water for the better part of an hour and thought I know better. And I did.

I was fine in the end, but the take home lesson is to know better too. Know how disasters like floods start. Know the signs and the basic “science” why something happens the way it does.
Equal parts common sense, instinct and being informed can keep you out of an emergency predicament. It’ll keep you safe, and would have kept me dry.

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