THE WILDEST WEATHER in some time has been pounding the Northcoast, with Anderson Valley absorbing a dozen direct lightning strikes between Boonville and Philo with accompanying blasts of thunder Thursday night/Friday morning. We expected to lose power but the grid never wavered. The lightning strikes occurred every few minutes for about an hour around midnight. Late Saturday morning, amid one of the many downpours, a vivid rainbow appeared southeast of Boonville. “It was downright amazing!” said one observer. “I've never seen a rainbow that close to the ground or that near. It appeared to have developed right between a small light and dark section where the sky opened up between the darkest clouds. It was my best one ever.”
HIGHWAY 128 was closed at Flynn Creek Road and is expected to remain impassable for the next few days as a series of storms is headed our way through Wednesday and hopefully clearing for a while on Thursday, December 27. The National Weather Service predicted that the Navarro would rise several feet above its 23 foot flood stage, a fact of huge concern to people living near the mouth of the river. Motorists were advised to use Philo-Greenwood or Comptche/Flynn Creek alternate routes to/from the Coast. A Flood Advisory was issued for the Russian River near Hopland on Sunday. The Russian may not exceed flood stage with this current storm system but heavy rains were expected to produce local flooding in low-lying areas in and around Hopland, the east areas of Ukiah and Talmage where the river often spills its banks in big rains. Highest sustained winds were measured near Little River Airport on Sunday as high as 41mph. Winds as high as 60mph were measured in other areas of the Northcoast. A vague report of a mudslide closing Highway 128 “west of Cloverdale” had not been confirmed as of Sunday evening.
EMAIL SERVICE by Pacific Internet was interrupted on, of all days, Christmas Day for a couple of hours, presumably weather related. Although it was a serious inconvenience to Jim Persky’s technical staff who had to foot it to Santa Rosa where the email server is, Anderson Valley emailers got service back in less than two hours.
INTRODUCTION TO YOGA, a 4-part Workshop-Series, with Kristen in January. Sunday afternoons at the AV Grange in Philo: Sunday afternoons on January 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th, 4-6 pm. Info: 707-895-3836.
THE ANNUAL RANCHERIA RESCUE, 2012. Usually it happens this way: A kayaker, or a group of them, underestimates the time it will take to schwoosh the rain-swollen Rancheria from Mountain View Road to Hendy Woods. They put in at the bridge on Mountain View about five miles west of Boonville while their significant others wait at Hendy with rum, blankets, rum, dry clothes, rum and transportation. This year the annual rescue was different, odder, actually. Dave Severn takes it from here:
“I went up Mountain View Road Monday morning to get some water. On the way back I saw some kayakers going up the road. It seemed like they were on their way to put their kayaks into the river at the Rancheria bridge further up Mountain View Road. So I turned around and came up on the two guys who were getting ready to kayak down the Rancheria in its full flow after these recent rains. They invited me to come along. They were about 45 or 55 years old. They said it would take about four hours to navigate from the bridge down to somewhere near Philo. That seemed a little long so I declined. They each had individual kayaks.
“In mid-afternoon I took my three grandchildren down to the river near Shenoa. We played there for a while on shore and watched the high water go by.
The next thing we knew at about 2:30 a kayaker floated down and pulled his kayak up and ran up to us and shouted “Call 911! I lost my buddy!” He said that he thought he lost him about two miles upriver. He said his friend fell out of the canoe-like vessel and was lost and he didn't know where he was. The empty kayak without its rider was being pulled by the first guy with a rope. I didn't have a radio or cellphone with me, so the three kids and I started running back up Ray's Road to get help.
“I sent John Finn (age seven) ahead to go home and call 911 while I took the younger kids up the road. On the way we came across a Mexican guy who was outside his house and he let us use his cell phone to call 911. In a matter of minutes search and rescue units started arriving — fire engines, helicopters, search and rescue SUVs — where we were gathered around Shenoa above the bridge. As the story developed we learned that somehow the guy must have hit something, maybe an underwater rock, and fallen out of the kayak. Then the other guy, still in his kayak, got hold of the empty kayak by the rope and the guy who'd fallen out grabbed his kayak and together they were caught in a eddy to the side of the river, not moving downstream. In the confusion the guy who had fallen out lost contact with the kayak he was holding on to and disappeared. The first guy had no idea what happened or where his partner went.
“The river is running pretty high now because of the heavy rains and at times it can get to three to six feet or more. It's fast and deep. It's also very muddy, you can't see in it at all. It's certainly not walkable.
“Don Gowan, the volunteer fire department’s Philo battalion chief, was in charge of the rescue operation. Another helicopter arrived; more search and rescue units arrived. Don has plenty of experience with these kinds of things so he sent a guy down to the Philo-Greenwood bridge just to make sure that the missing guy hadn't somehow gotten further downstream from his partner. Lo and behold, there he was — alive and still in his wetsuit. Somehow he had gotten around or under his partner and floated all the way down two miles past where his partner first came ashore.
“Don called off the operation at a little before 4pm Monday. I assume the dumped kayaker will get a bill for all that search and rescue effort. We still don't know exactly how they got separated or how the guy who fell out got past the guy who didn't fall out. The man who'd stayed in his kayak said he was going as slow as he could to search for his partner. So maybe the guy who had fallen out somehow slipped past him. We still don't know why the guy who had fallen out didn't just make his way to the side of the river instead of floating all the way down to the Hendy Woods bridge.
“I've seen kayakers in there at even higher levels, but you better know exactly what you're doing when you try that trip. There's nothing back there for miles. How this guy got so far downstream after dumping is a mystery to me.”
SUPERIVSOR JOHN PINCHES complimented the county's road crews for their extra work during the recent heavy rains. “There has been a significant change in in the operation of the Department of Transportation this year. It used to be that when washouts happened we would go out there the next morning and apply for FEMA funding and get it fixed. But the Department of Transportation due to these storms kept some of our road crews out there 24 hours a day through the night, driving around to keep the culverts open and keep them from plugging up. That virtually amounted to, given the amount of rainfall we had in a short period of time, may have saved this county hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more. So it's really a change in the operations of the Department of Transportation. It's a lot to ask road workers to stay up all night. Before they used to get off after eight or ten hour shifts and go home. But it's really made a significant difference in these big storms. Thanks to them and thanks to Howard and the crews. It's a new way to do business but it is certainly paying off, especially since we took some of those transportation dollars.”
CALLING DIRECTOR DESHIELD: We need the names of those intrepid road crewmembers. The local and County road crews deserve choruses of attaboys for their dedicated labor keeping Anderson Valley's roads clear.
COACH JIM YOUNG ON THE TRIPLE-DOUBLE: With my first Triple Double my college coach came to me the next day and explained that the Triple Double was one of the most desired statistics in all of sports. For the statistically deprived a Triple Double is when you accumulate at least 10 (double digit number) of each of the major statistics in one basketball game. I rolled my eyes with a “whatever” as I was not into statistics as the measurement of success. With respect for my elder, I said, “what do you mean?”
The Triple Double in basketball is a statistic which requires utilization in one game of all the qualities that athletes strive for, but which only some accomplish. (Now I was listening without the rolling of the eyes. Could this be a teachable moment) He continued: Scoring at least 10 points in a game of basketball requires the dedication to practice repetitive skills. The competitive nature to drive oneself, to want to continue to grow. Giving at least 10 assists in a game shows all of the above, and add to that the understanding that to give something away, without the expectation of return, may prove more powerful than scoring points yourself. This unselfishness comes from within, is family learned, and is hard to teach. Getting at least 10 rebounds in a game demonstrates physical effort for any player, but for the under six-foot player, it requires a continuous and grueling effort. Many efforts come up short without the ball and often times with a bruise. (I started to listen to my coach.)
Many try and some succeed. I would like to congratulate Justin Garcia for joining this club on 12/18/12 in the Potter Valley Gym, “Home of the Bearcats,” 10 Points, 11 Assists, 11 Rebounds — Coach Jim