liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Rainageddon! Don't Worry, I'm Not Flooded Out (Yet): A Photo Essay.

You know, a couple of years ago when we got slammed with rain, I remember being worried about living so close to the Charles River. I was told, "Ah, don't worry. If the Charles threatens to flood, they'll just open all the locks and the level will go down. The Charles never floods."

Apparently, this bit of information is wrong. When you get more than 10 inches of rain in 24 hours, it can flood to epic proportions.

The Charles does indeed flood. And since someone can only get home by crossing the Charles, when news came out that the state is so worried about one of your possible routes home that Governor Patrick is standing right on that bridge, it's best to clear out of work early.

Keep in mind, I have only three possible routes home, all of which require me to cross a bridge over what is now a flooded Charles River or a tributary.

Needless to say I didn't just walk out the door, I ran.

On the upside, I'm not in danger of getting flooded out because I'm on relatively high ground. My basement isn't even flooded. The bad news is quite a lot of people in my area can't say the same thing.

But because I'm crazy, and because there's still a residual reporter still living inside, I couldn't resist sneaking out in the pouring rain mixed with hail to capture some of the disaster.

Behold! The Ides of March!

Photos of mess below the cut.

This is a side view of the Stony Brook Reservoir spillover. It usually doesn't look like a raging waterfall, needless to say. Considering the plethora of cops and the USGS personnel around, not to mention the squishy ground underfoot, walking along the earthworks berm holding back the whole might of the flooded reservoir to get a closer look from this angle struck as a very unwise thing to do.

A U.S. Geological Survey Team is measuring the waterflow and the force of water on the Paper Mill Dam right underneath the bridge. During saner times, there's usually about 2 feet (give or take a foot) between the bottom of the bridge and the top of the water. I managed to exchange a few words with the soaking wet guys (they'd been monitoring the situation for a few hours), and they seemed just a little bit shell-shocked by their measurements. When I asked them how bad it was, they said, "Bad enough."

By the way, see that picture above? The Paper Mill Dam is almost exactly opposite that spillover.

Did I mention that I had to drive over that on the way home? Holy shit dosen't even begin to cover it!

This is another view of the Stony Brook Reservoir spillover, this time from atop the bridge (the USGS guys were only a few feet to my left). By the way, that retention pond usually looks like a tiny, peaceful pond with steep sides to get down to it. It usually doesn't look like a whitecap-a-palooza.

This is a more panoramic view of the picture above. It gives you a better idea of just how flooded out the area is, and just how much pressure the Paper Mill Dam is holding back. Did I mention that all this water feeds right into the Charles River?

This is the downriver side of the Paper Mill Dam from atop the same bridge where I took the two previous pictures. To give you an idea of just how bad this is, I've rowed a kayak up this tributary, and usually I can't get that close to the dam because the brook is so shallow. This same babbling, stone-filled book looks like a whitewater rafter's wet dream.

Spillover from the Paper Mill Dam from the ground level on the banks of the flooded brook. The ground was squealchy and just a little bit unstable from my perspective of this shot. I was tempted to take a video of this, but decided that the better part of valor was to snap the shot and get back to high ground.

Kids! Don't try this at home! Leave this to the professionals! The professionals being, of course, crazy reporters and even crazier ex-reporters.

Just for comparison purposes against the two previous photos, here's a picture of the Paper Mill Dam and water spillover I took from my kayak in July 2008. Note how wee and peaceful it looks. Also note that due to the water level, I can't get anywhere near the dam, either. This is what this scene normally looks like.

This underwater isthmus usually jets out into the Charles River. You can see from the trees just how high the Charles River has risen, and the flood hasn't even crested yet. In the background you can see the small islands in the Lakes Region are now underwater. The only thing visible is the very top of the plantlife sticking out of the water.

If the above view doesn't impress you, how about a side view of the same underwater isthmus?

This is a view of the Charles River creeping up its steep banks toward an apartment complex. It's not likely to run over the top, but you can see from the trees that the river's extremely flooded. The tree that's the furthest out in the river is usually on a bank that's a good foot above the river's usual water line.

And that's what I did with my early release from work! Went back out into the rain and got soaked to the bone to take these pictures.

I do it because I care. And because I'm crazy.

Now I need some green tea to warm up.

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