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Saturday, January 5

Fernley Levee Breaks

First and foremost, I want to send out my deep felt heartache for those in Fernley, NV that lost or had their homes damaged early this morning by freezing water from the busted levee in Fernley, NV. I helped my best friend clean her home that was ravaged by the flood of 1997 in Reno. It’s horrible, it’s a mess without a seeming end, and it gets worse several times before it gets better. I’m fairly sure that it is the tears shed by the individual homeowner that finally cleans the flooded home in the end. Nothing else will wash away the dirt, silt, grime, and pain. It’s for sure the tears that finally clean up the mess. I witnessed it in 1997. After you cry for three days cleaning up the same mess over and over, get sick and have diarrhea several times from the goop and critters that wash in with the mess, then FEMA shows up all smiley and happy with one mop, a quart of bleach, and a pair of gloves to make your job doable!

That being said, I want to post about the things I heard on the news. It’s no secret that we are all “holed up” this weekend during the “100 year storm”. Whatever, it’s the typical first BIG snow of each season. Some years it’s worse than others, this year the bull’s eye was placed on the head of Fernley, NV, about 30-45 minutes east of Reno. I have a little over one foot of snow in my yard, and I didn’t bother posting photos, because taking photos of sunshine on miles of bright white is useless :)

Knowing we had a BIG storm coming, I went to the store in the blizzard on Friday night, came home and set up shop to just chill and relax for a few days not intending to leave for anything. So did the folks in Fernley. I awoke this morning just like any other chill day. I was going to catch the morning news on Fox, listen to the usual stock guys argue, have a cigarette, and go back to sleep for a while after the dogs were let out. To my surprise, on FOX NEWS, there was breaking news of Fernley, NV, and the broken levee that caused the evacuation of a few thousand people. HOLY SHIT!

We then turned the news to local channels, and watched for a few hours…outside making phone calls to find out if the several people we know in Fernley were OK. I have an employee, several friends, etc. that live there. Once I knew they were all OK, I concentrated on listening. Now having been “in the know” before in this area during a flood, I listened to the locals. One guy made an interesting point. All the other news though was pretty much the same, and while tragic, it’s just the same tragedy over and over, and soon, you’ve heard all the facts and turn the channel after a few hours. But I remember my husband and I lying in bed watching this one interview, and commenting, “Huh…he’s probably got a point, and that’s not going to be good for the “powers that be… We also thought that if it had been us there, we would have been pissed.

One important fact to know at this point is that in this area, a couple of inches of rain can kick our butts. We live in the high desert and rain is not something that is kind to us. On Friday, the first wave of this weekend storm brought rain…ALL DAY. My businesses are in the flood plane, and several around us were sand-bagging, and it can get scary in a hurry. A desert surrounded by high mountains cannot survive much rain at all. The good news was that just in the nick of time, our rain storm turned to snow. Therefore, run-off water freezes, and then the snow begins to pile up, and that, we are used to.

Citizen X in the TV interview after the levee break in Fernley said this (paraphrased)… He lives on the levee and had been watching the levee all day and night. He lives on a lot not unlike a lot of folks around here…property that inclines UP in the back yard. He stated that at around 1 AM, he had walked up by the levee with his dog and noticed that it was scary high. He also noted that in the snow covered trails and roads around the levee, there were no tracks. He thought to himself, gee, I hope someone is keeping an eye on this! This levee was an irrigation canal used to irrigate land in that area.

A comment was made by officials “in charge” that it was not thought that excessive rain, snow, flooding, or the storm was the cause of the levee breech. It was thought that a rat, or gopher, or other rodent had eaten through the landfill, and that was the cause……hhmmmmm.

The water is usually bluish and suitable for irrigation and such. Citizen X didn’t really know much about the rodent theory, but noted that it appeared that no one was on the watch, and that the entire canal looked like chocolate milk. He didn’t think that was “normal” or the likely result of an active rodent, but more like run-off from other tributaries and drain water from the storm.

I noted that odd conversation in my pea brain at the time of airing, and then did what I set out to do. I had a cigarette and went back to sleep on my snow day after putting chicken & dumplings in the crock pot and setting a load of laundry on go in the washing machine.

I awake later and mosey about my day, continuing to watch news and feel for the folks in Fernley, but guess what? The people in charge are on it. Back hoes and dirt movers and all kinds of heavy equipment are working in a frenzy to patch the hole. Every news channel and every source began to speak more and more about the rabid rodents that eat through levees! Shouldn’t take long to have a back hoe patch a gopher hole right? The governor declared a state of emergency, folks began to die over possibilities that they may or may not be covered on their homeowner’s policies, does flood insurance cover, etc. Not to mention the poor folks that got carted off by coast guard helicopters…all to the result of rodents?

Well, ya know? It’s possible. Gophers can be sons of bitches…just ask the guys from Caddy Shack. It is possible. The folks making the point, and showing photos of gopher eaten and gopher ridden landfills (try finding one of those photos to copy and paste) made it all seem totally realistic. Hell, I was thinking of gophers and rodents as termites by the end of the day! (Except that I’ve lived in Reno since 1986 and I’ve never seen many…a few here or there…but not enough to eat through an entire dam?)

At the very least, why can’t our “leaders” just know what the folks devastated know…SHIT HAPPENS! We had a bad storm, A LOT OF RAIN CAME QUICKLY, the levee broke. End of story…it SUCKS, but the levee broke, just like Katrina was a bitch, a category 5 hurricane and a lot of stuff got blown away. BUT NOOOOO…it was a rodent!

Now, that might have been a nice “out” for the powers that be. Most likely shit just happened in the midst of a bad storm, but see…we have a lot of liberal minded “leaders” around here in Nevada, and if a RODENT did it, then it’s not their fault right? One would think. But as in any good episode of CSI, the dumb and well intended just cannot let well enough alone. Because…if you want to make a bad theory stick and hold true, you need a precedent right? Well, our glorious leaders are set. To the people out of their homes tonight, and to those that will spend months fighting with insurance adjusters, and buying new cars and furniture just after Christmas and just before tax season, and to the homeowners that were watching the levee rise in the natural course of bad nature during a normal Nevada winter, (AND BY THE WAY, IT WASN’T GLOBAL WARMING IN THE MIDST OF A SNOWSTORM), guess what the FFF else?

It just so happens, that this levee broke once before in 1996. I have links to prove all this, but they are “breaking news links”, so in case the links disappear soon…here’s the quote…”Saturday morning's levee break brought back memories for many when it also broke more than ten years ago. Back then there wasn't that much development in that Farm District Road area, so damage was much less. But what's interesting is that gophers were also to blame in the December 1996 levee break.”

Am I the only one left in conservative USA that can add 2 + 2? If the same damn thing (no pun intended) happened ten years ago, wouldn’t the guy in charge that probably makes a salary of 100K+ have the common sense to rebuild the levee with cement, or at least regularly treat the dirt with gopher poison? HELLOOOOO! I’m a pretty high charged Conservative / Republican, but even I see the plight of the little guy here. If common sense leaders would spend the money to actually FIX A PROBLEM THAT ALREADY HAPPENED, then gophers wouldn’t get two out of three! Since the backhoes and heavy equipment that brought in dirt today to repair the levee breech don’t understand the concept of 1:1, or two out of three, hopefully some leader in Fernley will realize that many dams are built out of concrete. Concrete reality, common sense leaders and principle, money properly spent…imagine the possibilities!