Flood & Native Speak
Oft times in the Silver Valley, about every 10 years - give or take a year, there's a flood. There was a flood in '64, '74, and in the mid-80s - (unsure of the year, but my parents took "movies") and probably one in the 90s. Now the floods in Pinehurst usually don't occur during the "spring run-off" when most floods occur - they usually happen in December or January. Yea. Dead in the middle of winter.
Northern Idaho generally starts getting snow in November (sometimes late October), and the snow continues to fall throughout December and into January. But in certain years, instead of the snow continuing through March, winter is disrupted by a "Chinook wind." A Chinook is a warm wind that comes off of the Pacific Ocean melting a portion of the snow pack. As the snow pack melts, it fills the frozen streams with excess water, then rushes into bigger creeks and rivers. I am not sure if it is because the ground is frozen, but winter floods are the biggest in Northern Idaho.
Now the geography of Pinehurst is such, that the creek (pronounced "crick" by the natives - Pinehurst natives) used to flow through the middle of the present town. My parents bought property on Main St. and the entire back yard was full of river rock. . .You guessed it. Right smack dab, in the middle of the old crick bed.
Of course, we were safe from flooding. Pinecrick crick (yep, that's what we called it - so as not to confuse it with Pinecrick, the town, "up Pinecrick") wasn't anywhere close to the property any more. Years earlier a dike (not to be confused with dyke - which is fairly recent term) was built to route the water around the southern end of town to the western side of the settlement and northward to the lead (led) crick. There used to be a road on top of the dike, aptly named "the dike road." As Main street leaves town on the western border, there is a bridge that crosses the "crick" and leads to the Bauman Addition. Prior to January 1965, that bridge was made of wood and held up by wood pylons ("pilings").
The flood came early that winter. It was a few nights before Christmas, when we got the call from Dorothy Clemens. " The dike broke! You've gotta get out of there!" Mom got us up, and we hurried out to the car in our pajamas, shoes and coats. Dad pulled out of the driveway and headed for 6th street. We went up one block and turned left, but the water was getting so deep that a small row boat floated past the front of the car. So he backtracked to Main, turned right and drove east to Division street. My parents had some friends who lived on "D" Street, which was situated higher than our house, so we went to there.
My sister and I crashed on a couch, chair, or floor to finish sleeping. I heard the adults discussing the possibility that the water could get high enough to flood our living room and destroy the presents under the tree. To avoid further catastrophe, Dad and Stan braved the waters back to our place, and put the packages up on the furniture.
The next day the water had receded enough for us to go home. When we pulled into the driveway, there was a thawed "frozen turkey" in our yard. Mom surmised that someone must have set it out on their porch to thaw the night before. People don't do that anymore.
I don't remember what we did for water. Usually when the water gets really high in the crick, and a Chinook starts to blow, we'd fill the bathtub with water to flush the toilet. (Used a pan to scoop the water and pour enough into the commode to trip the flushing mechanism.) We would also scoop water out to boil for drinking. Maybe we did the same with the flood water that year, I just know we got by somehow.
That could have been the year there was an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Kellogg. From the story I remember, some lady contracted Hepatitis and started getting sick while she was preparing food for St. Rita's Bazaar at the Union Legion. Everyone who had eaten there was urged to get vaccinated so they wouldn't get sick. Unfortunately a number of people who attended the bazaar contracted Hepatitis - including my husband and one of his sisters.
The flood destroyed the bridge at the west end of Main St. The waters were so deep, some of the "pilings" broke and washed downstream taking other "pilings" with them. In fact there were numerous wooden bridges around the valley that were washed out that year. Rumor had it that the "Pinecrick kids" had to cross the "crick" by walking across on a large pipe and holding onto a cable, just to catch the school bus once school was back in session. . (I remember hearing about it from the kids at school, but it has been so many years ago, some of them would have to verify if that information was factual. I know I believed it as a child.)
With the bridge to Kingston wiped out, those of us in Pinehurst were stranded. This was before the freeway was built, and the only way out of town was across that bridge. . .now I could be mistaken, but the other end of town was where slough met the "crick" and flooded the old road, blocking that exit. I think if there had been an emergency in town, we would have needed helicopters to get out.
(I know helicopters were used as emergency vehicles during one flood, but I don't remember which one.)
The bridges were given temporary support as the waters receded, leaving sometimes one lane to drive across. As soon as weather permitted, we got new bridges made of concrete and metal. I "kinda" missed the old wooden bridges. They had a certain quaintness and familiarity that the new bridges didn't have.
In addition to the loss of bridges, the Pinehurst Fifth Grade playground was reshaped by the flood. A once sloping grade up to the equipment, now had a large crevice right down the middle of it, where the creek had raged toward the school. Nevada street also had a fissure cutting a deep gash across it, one large enough that our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Trosch, was inattentively stopped in her tracks when the front wheels of her car dropped into it.
In Pinehurst, the dike was reinforced with gigantic rocks from the freeway construction, so that it held better than ever. And though the Chinook of winter, brings a big flood about every 10 years, I don't think the dike has broken since Dec. '64.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Flood & Native Speak