The Popcorn Stand: ‘Dam straight,’ did our best, could have done better
Forgive me if I become too tongue in cheek about this because I’m not going through what the folks in Dayton are going through right now and if they don’t appreciate my sense of humor, it’s understandable. When I heard about an emergency alert about a breach in a dam in Dayton urging evacuations my first question was, “there’s a dam in Dayton?”
Of course, there’s no dam in Dayton. And what’s true is there’s no gauge on the Carson River, either, to measure flooding in Dayton. So there you have it. Tuesday’s information on flooding in Dayton was about a dam that doesn’t exist and a gauge that really needs to exist.
What Tuesday’s scenario shows is we all do the best we can, but we can do better. And the misinformation on the “Dayton Dam” was actually a good thing. The National Weather Service issued an emergency alert on a breach in a dam in Dayton because really that was all the National Weather Service was equipped to do. The National Weather Service understandably wasn’t really ready to do an alert for a retention pond, which was actually what was overflowing in Dayton and not a dam.
But the retention pond was overflowing enough for officials to take action as a precaution, and in the end wasn’t it much better to receive false — but useful — information about a dam breach than having the National Weather Service doing nothing at all had the retention pond actually caused severe damage because it actually wasn’t a dam?
But hopefully we’ll learn from this situation and will be prepared to offer more specific, accurate information the next time.
As far as no gauge on the Carson River in Dayton, the gauge was discontinued due to a lack of funding. It hasn’t exactly flooded often in Dayton, which may have led to the decision to discontinue the gauge. But with this most recent flooding event that decision may need to be reconsidered.
So would I like Dayton to be more prepared for flooding with more accurate information and a gauge. Absolutely.
But for now can I accept what transpired on Tuesday and the resources Dayton now has.
— Charles Whisnand