Thursday, April 10, 2008

History In the Making As Water Gushes at 235,000 Gallons per Second

Lake Taneycomo just below Table Rock Dam

Southwestern Missouri and northern Arkansas continue to have heavy rain showers which add to the already swollen lakes, rivers and streams. The system of lakes and dams can no longer hold back the runoff. It's not unusual to see little waterfalls cascading down the limestone walls that line the highways. One such waterfall has been running continuously for several weeks.
Today we joined many others at the site of Table Rock Dam where we witnessed an historic release of water from the lake above it. For the past week or so 5 of the 10 flood gates have been open in an effort to manage the level of Table Rock Lake without sending too much water downstream to the other dams in the system of Ozarks lakes. The chain of decision-makers through the Army Corps of Engineers is interesting, going all the way to Washington, DC. That chain made the decision today to open all 10 flood gates at 235,000 gallons per second. Here are pictures of this history-making event:

Now, I'm not much into boating or fishing, but my senses tell me that when water is gushing from a dam at the speed of light, that is not a good place for a bass boat to be. These 3 men in a boat apparently weren't in tune to their senses. When I spotted them they were about 200 yards downstream from the face of the dam and moving rapidly. I got this shot as they were being carried backwards through trees that are normally part of the shore. Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub: what were you thinkin', Bub?

The picture below was taken this afternoon at 3:30. This evening the release of water from the dam was increased to 341,000 gallons per second. This will raise the water levels downstream by 2 to 3 feet. To illustrate what that will do in a matter of a couple of hours, our friend Rob is sitting on this wall at our favorite campground. Tonight the water will probably rise to where he is sitting. By the way, the red tank behind him holds the gasoline for the pump on the boat dock.

What we saw today was awesome, powerful, and bizzarely beautiful. But the real pictures are in the faces of those who have lost everything in the flood waters, and in those who can see it coming with every gallon of water coming out of those giant flood gates. My prayers are for those people to have courage and hope, and for all of us in better situations to come to their aid.

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