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Friday, June 6, 2008

Frogs in the Lilacs - and in the Blender

Good Morning, Laramie!

It was Friday, June 6th, and we woke up to yet another beautiful (but windy) day on the incredible marshlands of the high plains in southeastern Wyoming. A male mallard took flight from his morning bathing hole and nearly crashed into the dining room window as he headed toward the wetland.

We took a look across the street. Yes! Our lake was still there! We didn't know how much we would enjoy living on a lake! The grass is so tall, it hardly looks like a lake; but, lake it is! Susie and Brad's house, though, was still an island.

The Cottonwood Homeowners Association borrowed pumping equipment from the City. Early in the morning, the process began to pump water from the residential area into the river. All day long, City vehicles, Game and Fish vehicles, and Lookie-Lou vehicles came into the neighborhood to see the flooding that made the headlines of the news in the Friday Laramie Boomerang.

The gas company had been out on Thursday to shut off the gas to Susie and Brad's house. The gas meter was under about three or more feet of water. Actually convenient for us because a number of people had smelled gas coming from our gas meter, so while the guy was here to check on the submerged meter, he was able to fix our gas leak.

Then... the process began. Seemed like it should be a simple thing (easy for me to say). Stick the pump hose into the water and pump it into the manhole, which leads to the storm drain under the road and empties into the commons area, eventually to drain into the Laramie River. They began draining water from the wetland area. Then decided to try to block off the culvert from the wetland to the drainage ditch o that they could just get the wetland water out.

But, using a shovel to try to dig up enough sludge to close the culvert only released mud into the drainage ditch, and didn't stop the flow of the water downstream which - as you can see by the early morning photo above - was flooding the rest of the residential area. We'd never seen so much water in our neighborhood before.

So, they brought in the Big Guns that could plow up enough sludge in one fell swoop to block the flow of water to the drainage ditch. And pumping only the wetland area began. The pile of sludge is to the lower right of the photo.

And, this is what it looked like in the manhole/storm drain system. Skippy and I knew you would want to see this. I asked the guy if the frogs were in there. He said he didn't know. I sort of imagined this to be like a frog "blender"... the water was swirling around forcefully, moving very turbulently down the drain.

So, because Skippy and I knew you'd want to see this, too, we walked down to the end of the street to see the water coming out the other end. If I can figure out how to put the video of this into this blog, I'll put that at the end. Amazing! This is where the frog smoothie emptied into the Laramie River!

But, just draining the wetland area didn't remove much, if any, water from Brad and Susie's yard. Skippy and I saw Susie leaving for work. She said they weren't having any problems in their crawl space, though - that their sump pump was moving the water out. So, that was good! But the pumping crew decided they would pump Susie's yard after they drained a lot of water from the wetland area.

The pumping crew hooked up about a dozen 50-foot long hoses from the pumper, running the hoses down along the side of the road, across our driveway, to the next manhole cover, which is in front of our neighbor's house. Kind of interesting. I didn't even know we had that many manholes on our street.

The drainage ditch was pumped next. Hadn't seen it that low on water in a long time.

To give you an idea of how big these hoses are - because Skippy and I knew you'd want to know, I put my cell phone down next to them. Can you see the phone? It's in the lower center of the photo. The pumping crew said they couldn't turn the pumper on full power because it would have forced too much water down the storm drain too fast - also that the force of the water would catapult the hose out of the manhole!

Those hoses can move a lot of water - and frogs - downstream!

But the crew then realized that they were losing some water en route to the river, in more places than this one in the photo.

And, by the time the water got to the second manhole, the hose was kinked and water wasn't coming out very fast at all. (Maybe too many frogs?) By this time, Phil had gotten home and got into the action, helping Lee (on the right) and Rich (on the left) try to get the kinks out of the hose.

As a side note: When Phil did come home, he tried to pull into the driveway, by going around the hoses blocking our driveway, on the shoulder of the road in what everyone out here calls the "borrow his truck is deeply stuck in mud. Skippy's thinking, "Yeah. If I had a 4th leg I could help pull that truck out of there." The Game and Fish truck couldn't pull him out, and our neighbor couldn't pull him out, and the tow truck guy never showed up last night to try to get him out. So, the truck is still there today (Saturday, the 7th).

Welp, the pumping crew decided to return to Plan A - back to the first manhole - to pump Brad and Susie's yard. Katrina (center of the pump hose) came down to survey the situation just in time to help move the pumper hose over to the other side of the road from the drainage ditch to pump the yard.

And Phil got to hook up the hose to the pumper. All he could say about this picture is that it's his checkbook in the photo.

By sundown, some progress on the pumping was evident as the gas meter began to emerge from the water in Brad and Susie's yard.

Isn't this incredible lake front property? This is this morning's (Saturday, June 7th) sunrise over Martin Lake Resort. This morning there is no wind. I can hear the birds singing - or maybe it's frogs - from the house. I recorded the frog noises by the lilacs in our yard yesterday (the wind recording came along with it for free) and, if I can figure out how to do the video thing, I'll put that at the end of the blog, too.

Looking west, all things look pretty quiet. The pumper worked into the night - well after 10 PM. They didn't pump our yard - they knew we wanted to save the ducks' swimming hole, I'm sure. But, it looks like some of our lake has drained into the drainage ditch now that it was carrying less water - or maybe the grass is just too high to tell how deep the water is now.

The pumper stands silent. Phil wondered if it ran out of fuel. We'll know later today if they come back to pump anything more out of Brad and Susie's yard or the wetland area. The neighborhood kids were concerned that there wouldn't be any water left for the salamanders that they enjoy catching over in the wetland area. It's funny how much kids grow over a winter. They sure look older and taller than when we saw them last summer.

And this is what Brad and Susie's yard looks like this morning. The dogs should still enjoy it.

We'll keep you posted. Today we are going to Chef Ron and Chef Anne's wedding - the chefs who cook for our YUM (Young Uh-dult Ministry) lunches. They won't be cooking for us tomorrow. We'd planned a BBQ and Wiffle Ball Tournament, but it looks like we might be frog hunting instead of playing ball.

And here is where I will try to insert the videos of the frogs in the lilacs, and the water moving in the manhole to the river.


Frogs in the Lilacs - with Wind: Purposely no talking so that you get the full pleasure of the wetland sounds.

Water in the Manhole: No talking, just turbulent water sounds - and wind.

Water into the River: Yes - there will be talking, water sounds and wind. Amazing - no frog sounds!

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