Flood a hard bet to win
July 26, 2014
It’s no surprise to us that Sunday’s disaster turned out to be a 100-year-flood flowing off Hot Springs Mountain and into the residents’ homes and yards.
It’s not much comfort that chances are most of us won’t live to see the next time that much water falls on that small an area.
There have clearly been large flows off Hot Springs Mountain before if the evidence of the large wash off the south side is any indication.
But 100 years ago there weren’t too many people living below the mountain, so any flood that happened went into the Carson River without doing any damage.
We would expect that was probably close to true 50 years ago as well.
The floods of 1994 were tied to the Buckbrush and Johnson Lane washes, and therefore brought in from the Pine Nut Mountains, where the rain fell.
But most of the water that damaged properties in northern Johnson Lane actually fell pretty close to home.
While flashfloods are common in the desert, they tend to be rare in any given spot. The flooding we saw on Sunday was more than equal to that which occurred on July 22, 1994, almost exactly 20 years ago.
At that time we called for a countywide flood district to help pay for improvements that would stem any future flood along the washes.
But the lesson of Sunday’s flood is that putting money toward flood control is like placing a bet. There’s no guarantee that infrastructure will be where the rain falls or stop where the water flows.