Japan Earthquake Shifted Towns That Now Flood During Tides.
ISHINOMAKI, Japan — "When water begins to trickle down the streets of her coastal neighborhood, Yoshiko Takahashi knows it is time to hurry home.
Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by her front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle.
"I look out the window, and it's like our houses are in the middle of the ocean," says Takahashi, who moved in three years ago.
The March 11 earthquake that hit eastern Japan was so powerful it pulled the entire country out and down into the sea. The mostly devastated coastal communities now face regular flooding, because of their lower elevation and damage to sea walls from the massive tsunamis triggered by the quake.
In port cities such as Onagawa and Kesennuma, the tide flows in and out among crumpled homes and warehouses along now uninhabited streets.
A cluster of neighborhoods in Ishinomaki city is rare in that it escaped tsunami damage through fortuitous geography. So, many residents still live in their homes, and they now face a daily trial: The area floods at high tide, and the normally sleepy streets turn frantic as residents rush home before the water rises too high.
"I just try to get all my shopping and chores done by 3 p.m.," says Takuya Kondo, 32, who lives with his family in his childhood home.
Most houses sit above the water's reach, but travel by car becomes impossible and the sewage system swamps, rendering toilets unusable.
Japan's northern half sits on the North American tectonic plate. The Pacific plate, which is mostly undersea, normally slides under this plate, slowly nudging the country west. But in the earthquake, the fault line between the two plates ruptured, and the North American plate slid up and out along the Pacific plate.
The rising edge of plate caused the sea floor off Japan's eastern coast to bulge up – one measuring station run by Tohoku University reported an underwater rise of 16 feet (5 meters) – creating the tsunami that devastated the coast. The portion of the plate under Japan was pulled lower as it slid toward the ocean, which caused a corresponding plunge in elevation under the country.
Some areas in Ishinomaki moved southeast 17 feet (5.3 meters) and sank 4 feet (1.2 meters) lower.
"We thought this slippage would happen gradually, bit by bit. We didn't expect it to happen all at once," says Testuro Imakiire, a researcher at Japan's Geospatial Information Authority, the government body in charge of mapping and surveys.
Imakiire says the quake was powerful enough to move the entire country, the first time this has been recorded since measurements began in the late 19th century. In Tokyo, 210 miles (340 kilometers) from Ishinomaki, parts of the city moved 9 inches (24 centimeters) seaward.
Scientists say the new conditions are permanent."
More at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/09/japan-earthquake-shifted-_n_859353.html?ir=Green
The Flood, Why Did It Happen:
But that's only part of the answer.
For decades, people have been building shopping malls and parking lots that cause water to flow quickly into rivers, rather than soak into the ground. They've built levees that constrict the flow of rivers, forcing water to travel downstream faster. In places, this has been referred to as a "levee war," whereby one town's levees funnels water downstream to become the next town's crisis.
"People don't realize how dramatically humans have altered many of these river systems," says Len Shabman, an economist at Resources for the Future, a think tank in Washington, D.C."
Dreams Of Bountiful Harvest Wash AwayCARTER, Miss. -- "Where the rolling green hills of Mississippi give way to the fertile flatlands of the Delta, Bernie Jordan bounced down a dirt road in his white pickup truck, surveying thousands of acres of farmland that, until recently, looked to be a bumper crop.
But thoughts of a bountiful September harvest are all but erased from his mind. Now he focuses on saving anything he can, as a historic plume of Mississippi River water courses through some of America’s most productive natural farmland.
In just the past day, Jordan's soybean fields have transformed into lakes; his cornfields have been swallowed by nearby streams; weeds begin to choke his cotton fields, but he sees no reason to spend money to kill them.
"I haven’t hardly gotten any sleep in the past week," said Jordan, 53, a fourth-generation Delta farmer. "And when I do, I wake up and say, 'Is this bad dream over?'"
"Ironically, many of the Delta farmers most at risk are like Jordan, with land at least 30 miles from the Mississippi River. The backwater streams and tributaries are causing the biggest problems so far, particularly the Yazoo River, which snakes through many of the farmlands in the area.
As the crest of the river makes its way farther south, its sheer force puts pressure on major tributaries, causing those rivers and streams to back up and overflow where no levees exist to hem in the waters.
Jordan, like many in the flat lowland plains along the river, is fighting a battle on two fronts: work and home."
More at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/12/mississippi-delta-dreams-wash-away_n_861396.html
Morganza Spillway opening likely over the weekendMay 13, 2011, 3:20 p.m. CDT Associated Press
BATON ROUGE (AP) — "Gov. Bobby Jindal said the Army Corps of Engineers is likely to open the Morganza spillway Saturday night or Sunday.
"I'm confident in what they have told us that it is extremely likely that the spillway will be opened by tomorrow night, certainly by Sunday at the latest," Jindal said.
The governor said sheriffs and the National Guard will be notifying people vulnerable to flooding from the Morganza in a door-to-door sweep through the area that he says will take anywhere from six hours in some parishes to two days in others.
He said shelters are ready to accept up to 4,800 evacuees if needed.
"Now's the time to evacuate," Jindal said. "Now's the time for our people to execute their plans. That water's coming."
In addition to the 2,500 people located inside the spillway who would be impacted by the Morganza opening, there are an additional 22,500 people and 11,000 structures in the backwater area that would face flooding as well, Jindal has said.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said he also spoke with Walsh. He said the corps plans to initially use about 21 percent of the capacity of the spillway, diverting about 125,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Mississippi.
The corps has said the river's flow is approaching 1.5 million cubic feet per second. The corps has recommended to the Mississippi River Commission, an oversight body, that the spillway be opened at that point.
If Morganza is opened, water would flow 20 miles south into the Atchafalaya River. From there it would roll on to the Gulf of Mexico, flooding swamps and croplands.
Meanwhile, the corps continued to open gates at the Bonnet Carre spillway, near New Orleans, to relieve levee pressure. Water is being diverted into Lake Pontchartrain."
More at: http://www.nola.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/jindal-spillway-opening-likely-over-the-weekend/389c8c8cf4d346779836f5c141fcbaec
"Mississippi River overflow fills the floodplain, as the US Army Corps of Engineers flies over the region and prepares to open the Morganza Spillway for the first time since 1973. Record-breaking flood levels threaten Memphis, Baton Rouge, and most of southeastern Louisiana.
Ted Jackson / The Times-Picayune / AP
LA Flooding Concerns: List of Road Closures at: http://www.kalb.com/story/14589849/flooding-concerns-business-and-road-closures
Flooding Mississippi River threatens catfish industry.May 13, 2011, 4:27 a.m. CDT Associated Press
YAZOO CITY, Miss. (AP) — "Catfish farming in Mississippi faces grave danger from flooding.
The rising Mississippi River and its swelling tributaries threaten to inundate an economic mainstay that generates $200 million in annual sales. These new woes follow struggles in recent years against competition from Asian imports and high feed prices.
Mississippi is the leading U.S. producer of farm-raised catfish, followed by Alabama and Arkansas. Catfish is Mississippi's seventh largest commodity. But numerous challenges, including competition from catfish-like species called basa and tra imported from Vietnam and the high cost of feed, have led some catfish producers to fill their catfish ponds and grow row crops.
Catfish farmers say Asian growers produce a cheaper product by using chemicals that have been banned in the United States.
The flooding Mississippi River could spur even more Mississippi farmers out of business. Many of the farms are located in the south Mississippi Delta, an area that is already flooding, even a week before the river is expected to crest at places like Vicksburg.
"If these ponds get flooded, the fish will just become part of the flood," said Taylor Webb, a spokesman for Catfish Farmers of America, a nonprofit trade organization.
"Once the water subsides, there are going to be a lot what you call junk fish in there. You have to drain the pond, get everything out and start over," he added.
It takes 18-24 months to raise a catfish to a size that it can be sold for food, Webb said."
Mississippi River Could Crest At Memphis, Tennessee Sooner Than Predicted
(Actually the Mississippi crested at 47.8 feet at Memphis Tuesday, the second highest level on record and about 13 feet above normal flood stage. Normally, a half-mile of water separates Downtown Memphis from Arkansas. Now, the Arkansas is three miles away.)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — "Forecasters say the Mississippi River could crest late Monday at Memphis – hours sooner than previously predicted – but the mayor says the city's ready for it.
Mayor AC Wharton said that despite the tightened timeframe, he's confident that precautions such as door-to-door warnings have prepared the city.
"We don't have as much time, but fortunately we're ready for it," Wharton told The Early Show on CBS Monday.
To the South, authorities in Louisiana stepped up their preparations by opening floodgates at a spillway northwest of New Orleans to take pressure off levees in populated areas. Inmates were also being moved from a prison near Baton Rouge."
Finally Blogger let loose, and let everyone publish yesterday's, and re-publish the previous day's, blogs. Thanks to Live Writer.
Ray, Jay and I made some progress in the cargo trailer.
Ray and I screwed on the outside vent for the hidden AC, first lining it with some aluminum screen wire, so dirt dobbers can't get in there.
Ray painted the metal strip that goes across the front of the trailer just under the drip pan, but it hadn't dried enough to screw it on today.
On the inside, we covered all the caulked seams in the metal drip pan for the AC with silver aluminum Eternabond, not the white kind, and installed the AC. It has plenty of room to breathe on the top, sides and back. Jay cut a board to fit in the slot on the top of the AC, and that is screwed to the cabinet.
That AC is not going to move. But as I leaned over to do something, my back sure did. I put it out, and now there is a sharp pain when I move. So I am hoping some Aleve will help that.
With the shelf above the AC in, we put the fridge, that I bought yesterday on it so see how it looked. We had another shelf already cut, to put above it. There will still be enough hanging room in the closet for jackets and shirts.
Jay made the tracks for the drawer, cut a little notches in bottom of the drawer, so you have to pick up to open it, and installed the drawer front.
So at least it looks like we got somewhere, today.