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Franecdotes for: January 22, 1997

The Territorial Dispatch

Know what I hate about California winters? It finally gets really cold... cold enough that you dig out your winter jacket or coat and start wearing it. You put all your necessities in the pockets and just about the time you get used to which pocket has what, it gets warm again and you have to find another way to carry all that good stuff!

Actually, that's not the only thing I don't like about this particular California winter. Through no fault of theirs, Mother Nature has wreaked undeserved havoc on the folks in parts of Yuba County and Sutter County. For those of us who escaped total devastation it is difficult to comprehend the heartbreak and desolation and utter frustration of the people who have lost just about everything.

All of us in this area have been affected in some manner... by the evacuation, loss of business for merchants, loss of pay for employees, anxieties of change due to the necessity of leaving home... but none of these come even close to the difficulties of those people, families, who have lost their homes, possessions, pets, paperwork ... everything.

This week we toured the outskirts of many of the affected areas. It's not a pretty sight. People are working ...trying to clear the debris from their homes. Searching through water-soaked, mud-covered remnants of their possessions hoping to find a little something that will tie them to the past ...a photograph, a locket, a favorite book.

We also spent some time checking some things out. We looked over reported bad spots near levees and went to Oroville to see, for ourselves, the lake and dam. On the good side, throughout the emergency, we were provided information that kept most of us safe. We were also given a lot of information about what was happening in different trouble spots.

But, quite frankly, I'm not comfortable that the problem is resolved. I'm not convinced that we will not have to evacuate again this winter.

The water level in the lake at Oroville was down... not quite to some low levels I've seen it in summertime ...and not quite to a level I would like to see, since it is still mid-winter. But it will hold more run-off.

We looked at the emergency spillway there . If I interpret what I saw correctly it was pretty cottonpickin' close to that 'uncontrolled outflow' they were predicting. In simple terms that would mean that outflow water would go down the emergency spillway into the Feather River until the lakes inflow decreased substantially.

The runover would be simply because the lake was full... not because of any malfunction of the dam itself.

I heard the rumors that the dam had a crack, but if it does it was not recognizable to my untrained eye. However, I did not see anyone... work crews or individuals... frantically working to repair anything; and I assume they would be doing that if there was trouble.

A big part of the problem is interpreting the information they ... the government ... disseminate. A lot of the reports we get seem to be contradictory and others seem incomplete. So the best thing to do is to be prepared.

I would like to think I could put all my trust in the government. Something tells me that's not a good idea. Often the powers that be treat us as though we were all identical units, with no individual needs to be considered.

So just to be on the safe side for the rest of the winter... be ready. Not panicky. Not anxious. Just... ready. Being prepared makes survivors.

Keep your necessities, if not packed and in your vehicle, ready to pick up and take with you. Store some blankets and water in your car. If you have pets, keep their food in the car and their carriers nearby. And if you have kids have a definite plan. Keep them informed of what could happen and what to do if you get separated. Assign them specific jobs to carry out in the next evacuation. They will be better off if they're busy helping.

Just be ready. Being prepared is not pessimistic... it's being smart. And I don't want to lose any readers!!

Quote of the Week:

There's a mighty big difference between good, sound reason and reasons that sound good.
Burton Hills

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