Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dam (like damn) Pictures of the Week...

On Thursday afternoon Albemarle Rd., HWY 24/27 was closed in both directions at the big dip just passed the Lawyers Rd. and East Harris intersection because of a cracked weir holding back the swollen man made Forest Lake.  Outbound rush hour car commuter traffic on Albemarle heading east was a dam standstill nightmare all the way back to Independence, unless of course you were on dam a bicycle. 
Friday morning I rolled out of the house early with my little camera in the bag and headed over to check out how much progress was made from the overnight efforts of the CFD and some contractors to drain the lake and relieve pressure on the dam weir.  When I stood on the east bank of the lake, the first thing I noticed besides the huge generator pumps and their lines was the roof of a car.  HWY 24/27 had been reopened long before I arrived. 
Here is a look at the riprap application on the backside of the stress fatigued dam.  A few meters down below the sloping terrain is 24/27.  Although Forest Lake is not a huge body of water, it had enough volume behind the dam to cause a major problem across Albemarle and in the neighborhood on the other side of the highway on down stream.  *Notice what appears to be a big pile of condoms that were cleared from the pipes. The man on the phone might be calling the mayor's office to find out what to do with them...
The dam draining seemed to be winding down, the big motors went silent.  I rode around to the west bank of the lake and talked to a few folks from the press corps, including a familiar staff photographer from the Observer.  This photographer who will remain anonymous for the time being or until you use your intuitive deductions skills, asked me if I had rode all the way from the big buildings just to get a shot of the car.  I gave him the brief organic explanation about my daily commute which made him smile and almost start to laugh.  When I asked him about the scoop on the car, he told me that the bigger story was that the pumps continuously stopped working through the night.  "Yeah", he said, "One of the engineers told me that the big pipes draining the lake kept getting clogged up which caused the motors down to shut down often.  Apparently there were 25 years worth of condoms in the lake that were jamming the pipes."  Oh, I get it, you are making a dam joke.  Very funny.
Seriously, what about the dam car, was there a body in it?  We talked a bit more about the project unfolding in front of us.  My intuitive self felt like there was no human in the sunken car, but that feeling was based on my scanning of what I could see of the passenger compartment and the body language of the CMPD brass standing quietly on the hill.  The contents of the trunk was the only question, there was a physical block I could not feel passed to know for sure whether or not there was a body in there. 
The news crews started packing up and it was time for me to get going as well.  I overheard one of the cameramen mention that 'they' will not pull the car out while the cameras were set up.  The waiting game was over and the Observer guy without offering to drive me into town told me to be careful on my ride in.  "Thanks, if I'm not you'll read about it in that paper you work for", I told him as I rode away beating him and his motorized van to East Harris and beyond. 
This parting image was the most interesting in the set to me.  Tree stumps at the bottom of Forest Lake, I would have never thought that the floor of the lake looked like this until I saw it myself.  It was clearly obvious that this man made lake was one day natural wooded space.

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