29 September 2015

Noah, Noah, where are you?

As soon as I complain about drought, it floods. God has such a sense of humor.

The rains began early Friday morning and released water continuously until Monday noon for a total of 5.5 inches here at Stratheden Farm. The ground was so dry that it sucked up the water for most of that time with relatively little run off. There was a moderate to dense fog the entire 72 hours, all done just to make my English visitors feel right at home (alright, the cats also helped welcome them. here is Grover, chief of the Hospitality Committee, making a guest feel right at home). Precipitation ceased about noon Monday.

 Right to the top of the measure: five and a half inches.

Then it came back last night with a vengeance, beginning a little after midnight, pouring for 13 hours. Unlike a few days ago, this has been an unrelenting HARD rain, torrential in nature. The power went out briefly during the night and it is amazing it is still on. Water is flowing like streams on the hill tops of my big pasture. One of the great assets of Floyd county is the rugged terrain and the general slope from the Blue Ridge northward into the next county; this usually flushes water out very quickly but adds to the flood woes of the county to the north. But now the rain is falling so hard that even the steep hills cannot drain fast enough to prevent streams from forming. There will certainly be serious erosion damage all over the farm. Howell Creek is surely out of its bounds and eating away at the lower meadow - it can be heard roaring over the hill and forest from half a mile away.

The pond-which-will-not-hold-water is almost up to the overflow drain pipe; its not had this much water in it during its five year dry life.

The 1,700 foot driveway has sustained severe erosion damage. My guess is it needs 3,000 pounds of hand shoveled gravel to repair it. Will be on the telephone at 8:00 tomorrow to source gravel. There is one quarry in the county but the county and state road departments, which have a massive job ahead, will probably have priority.

The county gravel road which connects Stratheden Farm to the outside world also has severe erosion. Here you can see the original 18th century base course revealed  underneath the modern gravel.

 Falling Branch Road at it low crossing at Falling Branch Creek is under rapidly flowing water. Here is the view downstream from the road; the normal three foot wide stream bed is the thin line to the far right of the watercourse.

 From the Roanoke TV station web page a few hours ago:

The rain continues to come down, and road conditions are worsening after several hours of heavy, continual downpours. Town businesses are being flooded. Streets are overflowing with water.

There is a one lane road on East Main Street; 221 South, between the NAPA store and Slaughters' Supermarket, is closed due to water over the road. [this means I cannot get into town]

The asphalt on a section of Barberry Road (near the Conner dairy farm) is washing away.

Earlier this morning, a mudslide was reported on Route 8, near I-81 in Christiansburg. Route 8 is closed from Whitetail Outfitters to Christiansburg. [this is the only state highway leading northward out of the county]

Drivers traveling from Floyd County to Christiansburg report road conditions on Route 8 are bad. Water is across the road in several places. "Rivers" of water from driveways are coming onto Route 8, said one driver. "There were ponds in the road longer than my truck."

Also on Riner’s Meadow Creek Road, known as “Pig Path”, the water swept a van off the road into a field. Emergency personnel responded, and the driver, a college student from Floyd County, is now out of the vehicle. Her van is still in the water and will stay there until the water recedes. The road is closed.

Here is a video made from the library looking across the street to the Food Lion parking lot:

Patrick County, just on the other side of the Blue Ridge, has had the same flooding and the historic Bob White covered bridge was knocked from its buttresses and washed away. It was built in 1921 and survived all rains until now; that should give a sense of the magnitude of today's situation. And the forecast is like a broken record (who remembers 33 rpm vinyl skipping?) The worst may be yet to come.
The ground is so super-saturated the little springs are bubbling up from the ground.

When I planted lettuce & radishes last week I hoped for enough rain to germinate the seeds. Now I pray the garden has not been washed away.

This is one of those times a small $1500 drone would be very handy to overfly the farm and determine what is damaged and prioritize repairs, beginning with the driveway. Oh well, no drone so pull on the wading boots...

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