August 02, 2006

water woes

So I've heard alot about flash flooding during the monsoon season here in AZ... I just got my first glimpse of it yesterday, and boy is it going to be annoying! You have to understand one thing, first- there are rivers here that don't have water. (most of the time, that is.) On my way to work, I cross over the Salt River near the airport... it's a big, low, flat expanse of gravel and a few shrubs. On the highway heading south to Maricopa, you cross the Gila River, which also is a big, low, flat expanse of gravel with shrubs and small trees. Except for sometimes. Right now, the Gila River actually has water in, and there was actually enough to create a current. The ground is so dry here that when it does rain a lot, it doesn't really soak in; it just moves along the lowest, easiest path, seemingly coming out of nowhere, and being in a dry wash or canyon when that happens can be life-threatening.

Our subdivision is about 5 miles east of town, and the main road (Honeycutt) in and out has one "bona-fide" dry wash which is posted "Do Not Enter When Flooded" and another smaller dip, which isn't posted. I'm not sure where the rain fell (somewhere in another county, I think), but yesterday, they closed Honeycutt Rd in both places, due to flooding in the washes. I managed to make it out to the house via the highway with a bit of a detour, for a brief stop to take a look at the paint colors (pics of that in the next post!)... as I was heading back out of town, I decided to go back to check one more thing... in the space of that 20 minutes, they had also closed the highway, right where I just drove! I think they opened a levee, or something, because water was just rushing across the road. A couple cars in front of me drove around the barricades and through the water, but I didn't want to do it- it's not safe, even if you think it's not that deep. It's actually against the law- they have something here called the "Stupid Motorist" law; if you do that, and get stuck (or even worse, washed away!), you pay the costs incurred to get you and your vehicle hauled to safety.

So, the prescribed detour will take us approximately 35 miles to drive what should be 5 miles. (Because of the Indian Reservation, I think...) Hopefully the water will recede and be gone by Saturday, because we're paying mileage for the truck we're renting! And, even more, I hope they build a bridge (quickly) across the main wash- lots of people are moving out there, and it's not going to be any fun to double our commute in times like these! Just one of the idiosyncrasies of living in the desert, I guess...

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