12 May 2009


Many days of continuous rainfall has caused a great amount of flooding in this area. As the overflowing creeks, ponds and streams finally start to empty into the Ohio River, it almost seems like the barges going by are at eye-level. The many pictures appearing in the local media outlets tell stories of lost property and livelihoods, as well as a few lives.

Having lived in an area that flooded at least once every spring, I was introduced early on to the catastrophic effects of flooding. At one point, the water was within an inch of coming in the door. At the time I lived in a trailer which was set rather high and far forward of the nearby creek. That year, the water even got into the front of the car but not causing anything more than an unpleasant smell that lasted a couple of months.

I have to note, however, that the most prominent problem I always notice about floods (and this time is no different) is the huge amount of debris the rapidly-rushing water washes downstream. Although some of the debris is certainly not something that the original owners intended to lose, the majority of it is what can only be described as garbage. Living as I did in the trailer, my brother and I lost a few toys we had in the yard, as well as some items we had in storage underneath the trailer (including a bag full of good-quality, plastic, food-storage containers). After the rain had ceased but the flood had yet to recede, we would sit on the porch and watch as other kids' toys floated past, accompanied by someone's collection of aluminum cans, followed by plastic trash bags and the occasional tire. Along with all that would also be all of the litter that had previously laid along the sides of the road and in people's yards.

When the water had finally gone down to near-normal levels, the ground would be littered by whatever had been too large to be carried any farther. In the upstream areas, most of the trash would be larger things: tires, pieces of houses or trailers, doghouses. Farther downstream--such as at the river near which I now live--the smaller pieces of trash that began their journey perhaps miles upstream accumulate into a large, floating mass of garbage.

The church I now attend used to have flood problems in their old building. Part of the solution when they built the current church building was to install some drains in the ground that would allow most of the excess water to continue its flow without creating a flood problem. It was certainly a good idea; but, last week a problem arose. There are houses and other types of dwellings up the hill from the church. No less than nine tires ended up following the flow of the water down the hill. The tires, along with a substantial amount of other trash, covered and ultimately obstructed the storm drains, causing a waist-deep flood which trapped a few cars in the parking lot and closed off the main road.

This elicited a flurry of questions in my mind:
  • Were the people on the hill trying for a world record tire-hording record of which I was not knowledgeable and may have enjoyed attempting?
  • Upon seeing the water rush down the hill, did they hold a tire-on-the-water race? If so, who won?
  • Did they intentionally set their trash out in the flow of the water just because they were too lazy to get rid of it in any other neighborly way?

And, finally, the most far-reaching question:

  • Would there be so much flooding if people would clean up after themselves and stop littering the roadways, yards, creeks, and gullies with their trash to allow the storm drains to work unobstructed?

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