When the high water finally hits the edge of town, this will (unless they revise it up again) be the second worst flood in the city's recorded history.
We grabbed our cameras when we got home from work today and drove up to the park to snag some pictures of the high water. Apparently we caught it at its peak, because it has since dropped a couple of inches, and they are projecting that it will drop even further now that they have closed up the flood gates a little more.
A woman takes a break on the bench to look out over the swollen river. Two days ago atara and I were walking over that stretch that is now under water.
For contrast, here is atara walking through that same shallow gully two weeks ago.
The water is only inches away from flooding out other portions of the park. If it was not for the floodway, we would be in serious trouble. This flood is worse than the one in 1950 that breached the dikes and decimated the city.
Again, for contrast, here is the river two weeks ago. It was about two meters lower than it is today (still well above normal levels). The ice down the middle was close to a meter thick, and the sides were freezing over as quickly as it overflowed its banks. When it finally moved out of here, this is the ice that caused all of the jams and flooding downstream from us.
Six days ago the river was showing its first signs that the ice was thinking of breaking up. The level was about 1.5 meters lower than it is today, but the it was still mostly covered in ice. Two days later the river was clear of ice. Apparently once it decides to go, it goes very fast.
The river normally flows very placidly - sometimes it is very difficult to tell if it is moving at all. I am sure that somebody who knows more about fluid dynamics than I can probably explain this, but the more it overflows, the faster it moves. Here it's rushing over a tree that was probably felled by one of the ice blocks as they were breaking up.
When the choice comes down to cutting a hole in your fence, or risking your house, I guess the choice is pretty obvious. This sandbag dike runs straight through a number of fences. In the foreground is a post from a city surveyor, showing the required height for this dike. Given that the river has apparently peaked, and the water never made it to the sandbags here, I am guessing that after weeks of underestimating the flood, they decided to err on the side of caution this time.
This is the street at the foot of ours, that runs parallel to the river. The street itself is built up as a dike. The houses to the right are protected, but the ones on the left (river side) are vulnerable. Yesterday the street was closed to traffic, and there were impressive piles of sandbags along it. An army of hundreds of volunteers made pretty quick work of them over the next few hours, shoring up the clay dikes protecting most of the houses.