Saturday, May 28, 2011

After the drought comes the deluge

DAN CEPEDA Star-Tribune:  Vicky Marlow takes snapshots of the swollen North Platte River near the whitewater park in Casper on Friday afternoon. The river has risen past its highest point last year, according to experts, and is expected to keep rising.
I spent most of my day working in the yard. Normally on May 28, I would have applied a healthy dose of sunscreen. I am a freckle-faced Celt, prone to sunburn and skin cancer. However, the sun made only a brief appearance in Cheyenne today. No sunscreen required. The rest of the day was cloudy and, as I was grilling salmon for dinner, the rains came. We're not getting cataclysmic storms, just steady rains. The mountains continue to get snow and, when the thaw does come, we're going to have some bitchin' floods.

Gov. Mead has dispatched the Wyoming National Guard to flood-prone areas of the state, which includes all but my own Laramie County, land of little rain and small creeks. Our local waterway is Dry Creek, which gives you some idea of how little water we usually have. All I can say about Dry Creek is that it is a bit less dry than normal, but not exactly a raging torrent.

On the other hand, the North Platte in Saratoga and Casper and the Laramie River in Laramie are out of their banks. The Popo Agie and the Snake are flooding, as is the Belle Fourche. You've got to hand it to us -- we have some sweet names for our creeks/rivers.

Last spring, I was in Lander as the Popo Agie roared through town, undercutting foundations of riverside homes and roiling over its banks. On the reservation, water was over the roads and more was expected. Much more is expected this year.

We have it pretty good compared to our fellow Americans in Mississippi and Louisiana. Still, our neighbors that serve in the National Guard will not be barbecuing but will be on alert this weekend, prepared to sandbag and rescue as the need arises. Think of them on Memorial Day. Think of them as you pay your taxes. Think of them the next time you criticize government employees.

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