June 10 – Fighting the flood in Canton

There was a fair backlog of work to do upon our return.  Wednesday I fixed the garage door and replaced the lock/door knob assembly on the front door.  I mowed and trimmed, and pulled weeds in the prairie.  It’s been warm and humid; typical for this time of year.  I found a tick crawling on my arm, and the first chigger bite appeared between my toes already.  It seems I returned just in time for a Mississippi River Flood.  The Head Start in LaGrange, which is associated with Stacey’s office, was soon to be underwater, so we spent the evening moving playground equipment and scooping up the shredded tire playground substrate.  All was stored in higher, dryer places.  Savannah’s friends were here for a sleepover.  They stayed up late and ate a diversity of foods. 

I did get a little bit of time in the prairie with the macro lens.
  
Red-banded leafhopper.                                                                             Unknown moth

  
First monarch caterpillar of the year.                                                       Pretty blue damselfly. 

Thursday morning I helped move the appliances out of the Head Start building, and we stored them in my spare garage, where the dune buggy once lived.  I got caught up on my online teaching, then changed the oil in the Lil Egg.

Friday I spent most of the day sandbagging, or as much as my back would stand anyway.  Fortunately, we have an earth levy, not sand, and it held in ’93.  When the river gets this high we have to sandbag it though.  It was cool to see them put up the batter boards on top.  It would have made a hell of a time lapse series of photos.  Plastic sheets and sandbags will follow.

It will be interesting to see if I can get out of bed tomorrow.

Saturday morning I started out throwing sandbags.  I was sore, but not incapacitated.  Stacey was manning the phones at the Emergency Operations Center and serving as logistics officer.  She started sending me on errands, which got me out of throwing bags.  In the afternoon I went home to rest up.  I was supposed to walk the levy that night, but it was called off.  Cities up and down river are all sandbagging.  Here in Canton we are desperate for help.  The flood crest is expected to exceed that of the record 1993 level.  We need to have the majority of the sandbagging done by Sunday night to have a chance of beating it. 

Sunday I filled sandbags from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.  I did every job possible (it’s good to change the muscles you’re using): shoveling, bagging, tying and throwing.  I worked with a lot of different people who came and went during the day.  Savannah even showed up and put in an hour or so.  We were interrupted at one point by a severe thunderstorm warning, and had to run into the building.  It didn’t rain on us, but windblown sand is no fun.  Several large groups came to help out.  I had some fun teasing the teenage boys about the women prisoners.  “They haven’t seen a man in a long time.  And you KNOW they’re naughty.”  Stacey worked the EOC again after church.  She called me off of sandbagging to man phones at the EOC.  I was dirty, smelly and tired.  I took a shower, went up there and learned the ropes.  We knocked off at 11.

Monday I worked the phones until about 4.  Good thing.  My hands were in no shape for sandbagging.  Other muscle groups were mostly quiet.  It was a crazy day at the EOC.  I was mostly working the radio, coordinating communication among our people with portable radios all over town.  One of my major accomplishments was arranging trash pick-up at all our sites.  I also got the lock and dam people to call us with the river stage periodically.  Savannah would say, “You want a cookie?” 
The river is supposed to crest in 2 or 3 days.  At one point, a record high level (exceeding the 1993 level) was predicted.  This has been revised down to just below the record level.  At the time of this writing the river has just fallen a bit and we don’t know why.  It’s a mystery, but a good one.  It will probably help us a lot, as the crest will probably be lower than currently expected.
When I was done I went down to the bag-filling site, where Savannah and her friends were sandbagging.  I helped out for awhile, until I was asked to go to the levy and throw bags.  I jumped at the chance, as I had been wanting to work near the river on a seemingly more interesting job.  It kicked my ass. The pace was intense.  It was like doing 1000 curls with 20 pounds as fast as you can.  OK, maybe 100 curls.  It was neat to see the campground about 8 feet under water, and you could tell the current was very fast out in the middle.  I retired at 8 and went home to recover.  Savannah and Hannah were still going strong filling bags.  The whole parking lot where this happens looks like an ant colony.  It’s fascinating, in a way.

While in the EOC I worked with a student named Suzan Stott.  She had been out taking photos the previous day.  I have not been able to do so, and I was thankful for getting access to her pics.

The railroad crossing down by the park.  There’s a stop sign in front of the right hand RR sign.  You’re looking at a spot where I’ve photographed dragonflies and butterflies, and now would have water over my head.

This is a decent shot of the batterwall on top of the levy.  It raises the effective height of the levy by two feet.  The levy is about 3 miles long and makes a crescent around the town.  There is sheet plastic on the side facing the river, anchored with staples and two layers of sandbags.  What I helped do today was add more bags until they reached up to the top of the boards (OSB framed by 2x4s).  You can see that it is supported by 4×4 posts, T posts and 2×4 braces.

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