Twin Ports ‘Great Flood of 2012’ goes with flowHere in the Northland, we don’t experience volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, hurricanes or tsunamis. Our wildfires rarely cause large evacuations and even less often, loss of life.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
Here in the Northland, we don’t experience volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, hurricanes or tsunamis.
Our wildfires rarely cause large evacuations and even less often, loss of life.
And our winter blizzards — well, one’s disaster is another’s work-a-day-routine.
So, what do we do when the rain pours down in buckets from a dark June sky?
If you live in Duluth, you don’t give it much thought at first. Duluth is built on a hill rising up from the shores of the world’s third largest fresh water lake by volume. Water runs downhill, doesn’t it? If you live in Superior it’s a safe bet that any overflow will be swallowed up by that lake before it settles on the flat side of the bridge.
Water is an awesome force of nature and we tend to think of nature and all things natural as good. Still, like too much of any good thing, too much rainfall over too little time swiftly turns from annoying to disastrous. Big lake or not, storm drains overflow. Manholes become blowholes, gushing water several feet into the air. Roads become river ways.
While national news coverage tracks every droplet of moisture from brewing tropical storms that never hit shore to every earth rumble that shakes up the West Coast, we saw little coverage of our flood.
Even the Weather Channel gave more play to the heat wave oppressing New York City, and how our rain was tracking across the states on its trip to cool down Central Park.
Meanwhile, in Superior’s Central Park, teens were diving from trees and residents were canoeing past the swing sets. It’s hard to blame the folks at the Weather Channel though. They’ve sent news anchors to Duluth twice in the past, hoping to cover the blizzard of the century, only to watch as the storms blew over and out.
Perhaps the lack of national attention is a result of living in this northern wilderness, where most of the rest of the world seems to think people are sparse and reasons to turn their voyeuristic eye toward us are close to none.
Or maybe it’s because we are stoic, pragmatic and resilient. We tend to see things more as a challenge than a disaster.
Thirty-six inches of snow in one storm — no problem — we just bundle up, pull on the Sorrels and grab the nearest shovel.
Still not a problem. As soon as I’m done bailing out my basement, let me get my canoe and paddle over to help my neighbor dry out her soggy carpets. Then for fun, we’ll pull the kids around that flooded parking lot on big, blow-up floaties.
Perhaps it’s because we come off looking like hapless fools when we play in storm drain overflow and gather to gawk at the worst damage.
Here’s the thing, this disaster rated lower on the news value scale because there were no mass evacuations, no wide-scale power outages and no shortage in the drinking water supply. Our available shelters weren’t overflowing with the suddenly homeless and hospital’s emergency rooms weren’t backed-up with the injured, sick and frail. Outside of the tragedy at the zoo, there was no loss of life.
The aging infrastructure suffered great and costly damage as did businesses and homes. But we’ll bail out, dry out, apply for any available relief funds and then rebuild and repair. We’ll mourn lost photos, lost mementoes and lost time, but not lost loved ones. In the years to come, we’ll tell tall tales about the Great Solstice Day Flood of 2012.
But mostly, we’ll do what we Northlanders do best — calculate the rain to snow ratio and speculate how much worse it could have been if it were buried beneath ten feet of the fluffy white stuff.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.