Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Prospect of Rising Water

I have a confession to make. Even with all of the news of disasters filling the 24-hour news cycle - today the tornados in Springfield, recently Joplin, Tuscaloosa, the flooding along the Mississippi, in South Dakota, earlier the tsunamis, earthquakes... I am able to block out the tragedy and heartbreak and pretty much go on with my life.

Now, on so much of a smaller scale that it really doesn't even register in the grand scheme of "disasters", my community is facing the challenge of rising waters. The North Platte river is expected to inundate the north part of North Platte, with worst-case-scenario 2-3 feet of water. I will never watch the weather channel the same again.

Two of North Platte's most beloved historical attractions lie right in the path of the rising water, the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park and the Lincoln County Historical Museum. Though I felt a twinge of guilt in focusing on tourist attractions rather than people's homes, being a tourism official, I answered the call for volunteers to help in protecting these two lovely sites.


I thought I had an inkling of the hard-work that went into barricading neighborhoods from rising flood waters. After all, I'm a farm-girl, used to hard work. Yesterday, the realization hit that I'm an aging farm girl, no longer able to toss around 40-50 lb weights for hours.


Thank goodness for younger, stronger volunteers, like those above from the North Platte Fire Department. If the Ranch and Museum had to rely on volunteers like me for their protection, they would be doomed. At the Ranch, even our own personification of Buffalo Bill, Bruce Richman was pitching in to protect the Showman's home.A lot of the Outback clan was represented. The Mister and my sister were there for most of the day, and my brother dropped the job he was working on (when he came to a convenient stopping place) to operate a bobcat in the construction of a berm. Later, my nephew, his dad and a friend came over to fill sand bags. This is the sandbag wall we were working on. When completed, it will be three deep and as high as the top rail on the fence. Though the work is backbreaking, I truly hope it isn't needed at all! And yes, I'm not just blowing smoke when I say that even I rolled up my sleeves, donned gloves and went to work. Filling sand bags and laying them in place is hard, hot, dirty work, but the more hands involved, even pitiful hands like mine, the easier the job becomes on everyone. We even had a young couple who were just driving by stop and lend a hand. They said they saw the work and had about a half an hour to spend to they pitched right in.


The Emergency Manager is telling us that this could be a 30-45 day event, not a flash flood and it's over. Protecting these assets is a marathon, not a sprint, so there's plenty of time to put in a few hours here and there to get the job done. Hopefully, the major protection will be completed by Saturday, in plenty of time to await the water.


Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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