f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 12, 2006

too dam personal

Filed under: pre-06-2006,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 7:20 pm

The Gilboa Dam, at the Schoharie Reservoir in Schoharie County NY, is

about 60 miles west of my home in Schenectady. The dam is owned by

the distant City of New York, and supplies about 16% of the NYC’s water.

For the past few months, I’ve been vaguely aware that a lot of people are

worried the 1927 Dam might fail, causing massive damage along its down-

stream watershed on the Schoharie Creek. In December, Sen. Chuck

Schumer urged NYC to speed up its repairs to the dam, and local Cong.

Mike McNulty joined Sens. Clinton and Schumer in asking the Army Corps

of Engineers to help get the job done quickly and right.

None of this focused my attention on that Dam. It’s on the Schoarie Creek,

and my backyard in the Schenectady Stockade is on the Mohawk River.

However, yesterday, a local tv news show made a report that did get me

focused (WRGB/CBS-Ch6 “Emergency plans for Gilboa dam,” Jan. 12,


Schenectady’s Stockade is about 60 miles from the Gilboa Dam

but if it were to fail it is not just the people in Schoharie County

who would be affected. Emergency officials in Schenectady

County are keeping a close eye on the aging Dam. If something

were to happen residents of the Stockade would only have 10 hours

to get out. County Emergency Management Coordinator, Bill Van

Hoesen . . . says the consequences if it did happen are serious.


It was recently revealed that the 80 year old Gilboa Dam was not up

to current safety standards. Water from the dam flows north from the

Schoharie Creek into the Mohawk River which along with spring thaws

and ice jams, makes the Stockade prone to flooding. Experts say that

if the Gilboa Dam does burst, [20] billions of gallons of water would head

straight for Schenectady flooding the streets of Front, Erie, and Broadway.

The water could even rise to nearly 240 feet above sea level, where it was

in 1914 [the highest on record; flood stage is about 212 feet]. Under the

emergency plan, though, Assistant Fire Chief Mike Dellarocco would go

door to door evacuate residents.

Okay, now I’m interested. I’m leaving in a few minutes for a Stockade Association

Meeting, where I hope to learn more. The tv reporters said that parts of the

Stockade — a Historic District of ancient homes — might be irretrievably lost. My

home is on the block that borders the River. Sometimes, one’s perspective can

change with just a tiny little fact or two. (Something a good judge and lawyer

should always keep in mind.)


river flood

a “For Sale” sign

on a cottage roof

George Swede from Almost Unseen

the flood’s wake—
driftwood bison
and dinosaurs

Barry George from Haiku Harvest (Jan-Feb 2003)

flood damage —


our new riparian beach



dinner party
glancing up from grace
to the flood mark on the wall


wind and rain
the hand I reach for
in the dark




shimmering pines
a taste of the mountain
from your cupped hands





bitter wind …
the hand that cups the flame




snowed in
the wedding-ring quilt
lumpy with children

Winter night:
a spark between the tweeds
of strangers





mops and pails–

the wren goes on singing

with straw in its beak




Peggy LylesTo Hear the Rain (2002)

“mops and pails–” Frogpond XXVIII:2 (2005)


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