In case you forgot, we’re still in serious danger of flooding.
A 3-inch rain over the weekend has driven Tuttle Creek Lake up by about 4 feet, as water has cascaded into the reservoir while the outflow was cut to prevent flooding farther east.
The lake is at 1,132 feet above sea level, just 4 feet from the top of the spillway gates. It had dipped to about 1,128 last week, as government officials had managed the outflow to nurse it down. It had peaked several days before just inches from the top of the gates.
The downward trend meant the calming of nerves hereabouts, as well as the canceling of evacuation advisories and emergency procedures by local officials.
The most threatened area was — and is — the Northview neighborhood. Parts of that area are in the path of floodwater, should the spillway gates at Tuttle have to be opened. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would open those gates to prevent water from running over the top and threatening the integrity of the spillway gates and the dam itself.
That has only happened once, in 1993, since the lake was built.
Residents in some parts of Northview packed up and got to higher ground weeks ago when the lake level was rising quickly and evacuation advisories were issued. Many have returned.
Here’s the thing: The threat was never really gone. June is the wettest month of the year, and a 3-inch rain is a near certainty most years, even into July. It was a drumbeat of big storms in July that really created the flood of 1993.
So all the same cautions remain: It’s wise to have a plan, to have insurance, and to stay informed. We would just urge everyone to avoid assuming that, because we narrowly missed a flood a few weeks ago, that we’ll for sure avoid one now.
We have confidence that the Corps can manage that lake, and the entire system of reservoirs and rivers through the Midwest, as well as they can be managed. They’re already cranking up the outflow through the tubes to try to stop the upward creep of the water.
But Mother Nature ultimately can’t be managed, and a few more storms like this past weekend’s would simply overwhelm the system.