Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Great Flood of 8/4/2009

While here in Frankfort, my wife called to let me know that the University of Louisville was closed due to severe flooding. This flooding happened to 31 counties, including Franklin, which just so happens to be where Frankfort is. Ironically, I am in Frankfort studying flood control methods.

Naturally, this appealed to me, and once I got home I looked up some pictures of the damage. It's amazing how destructively beautiful nature is. Fortunately, but sadly, I was not in Louisville, so I did not get to see the flooding first-hand, but I have found some pictures that show the results of a large rainfall event over a short period of time. One site I've read says there was 18-20 feet of water on campus, with the central region being under 4 feet of water. People had to be rescued by boats even. Tragically, the main public library was flooded, and tens-of-thousands of books were destroyed. Cost estimates are over a million dollars in damages.

I couldn't find the exact rainfall data, but somewhere around 5 to 7 inches of precipitation fell. Since Louisville is predominately impervious (lots of concrete and rooftops), stormwater mitigation is a serious thing in the city. There was so much standing water pressure that there are reports of manhole coverings exploding from the streets.
Finally, a word of advice to those of you that happen to ever come upon a flooded street. DO NOT attempt to cross it. I know you hear this all the time, but still people try, and people still die, too. Just a little bit of water on a roadway can move quickly and have enough momentum to turn dangerous.

By the way, the top picture is from UofL's campus, the second looks to be some road somewhere, and the bottom picture is of Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby. For more amazing pictures and info on this flood, check out the Weather Channel, or follow here. There are some pretty wild and crazy photos and videos out there.

A final thought. During my last semester at UofL, I took a Green Engineering course, where we discussed how poorly the campus drains and how much problems it has with a simple, low frequency rain event. In this class we came up with ideas for displacing some of the stormwater runoff. It would be nice if those methods were implemented, but I'm not sure how practical they would have stood up to this storm. My understanding is that the event was around a 40-year event, so I shudder to imagine what a 100-year flood would look like.

Sorry for the frenzy of writing this. It's terribly exciting, but I'm terribly exhausted. Thankfully, I found out this neat function in Blogger that allows you to specify a date and time for when to post, which I have implemented these past three days. In fact, if you read this between the hours of 8am and 4pm EST, then I will be in class and you will have experienced first-hand Google Robot Posting.

Stay warm, folks, and dry-ish. Remember, Don't drown, turn around.


Krista said...

Man, that looks crazy! I've never been in a flood before. But I can say, that if I ever end up in one I'll never try and drive in it!

By the way, How's the class going? Are you learning anything?..LOL!

logankstewart said...

The class went well. For better or worse, it felt just like I was in school again.