|Flood of '96|
One of the Senegalese families in the area, friends of Maty and I, just had a baby a couple days ago, and so last night we braved the icy streets to deliver the traditional Senegalese gift to a family with a new addition: food, and lots of it. (A fine Senegalese tradition.)
We made a perilous drive across town, and it got me to thinking about winters here in Portland. In the 22 years that I have lived in Portland, there has never been a winter like the Winter of '96.
We had abnormally high rainfall that winter, but low snowfall. In late January we had a huge snowstorm which piled snow onto the rain-saturated earth. The snowstorm was followed by a deep freeze that lasted for more than a week, paralyzing the city. The surface streets were coated with sheets of ice.
When the warm air from the Pacific finally did thaw the ice, it brought rain with it. The earth could hold no more water. The Willamette River rose 29 feet, ten feet above flood stage. The water came within a hair's breadth of over-topping Portland's seawall. Volunteers frantically piled sandbags along the city riverfront. Oaks Park, sited in Sellwood next to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, was completely submerged.
Well, the Winter of '96 was a hell of a winter. I wouldn't mind if I never saw another one like it. But something tells me that there is more on the way.
That's life, here in Oregon, eh?
Stay warm and dry!