Notes from the Island
October 1996


I'm still in shock. Holly and I always knew that the river might rise into our apartment. It never occurred to us that it could happen twice in one year.

At least this time I had the sense to question the original predictions of the National Weather Service. When the recording predicted 40 feet at Paw Paw, 30 feet at Harpers Ferry and only 10- 12 feet at Little Falls, I simply said "I don't think so."

In some senses the timing of the flood was perfect. We were able to get a good crew of members down on Saturday morning to tie up the canoes, drop the ferry line, secure the shower and picnic tables, and carry everything we could think of to the second floor of the clubhouse and the workshop.

Holly and I left Saturday afternoon when the Potomac was at 10 feet. The river crested early Monday morning at 18 feet, which was 1 1/2 feet into the Clubhouse and about 4 feet above the towpath.

Damage to the Island was minimal this time. All of the temporary canoe racks were washed down into the trees, but John Matthews hired laborers to retrieve them and put them back into place.

Many thanks to all the members who came and helped before and after the flood: Tryon Wells, Gerry Barton, David Lyles, Tom Edsall, George Malusky, Abby Morrison, John Matthews, Warren Brown, Phil Jones, Steve Jones, Bill Eichbaum, Johnna Robinson, John Stapko, Rocky Delaplaine, Tove and Manfred Elfstrom, Dick and Penny Doolittle, and Judy Lentz. Our apologies to anyone we missed.

The major clean-up and repairs have been completed, but there are many small tasks that still need attention: seeding the lawn, clearing the deck, picking up trash, tidying up the work shop, and collecting scattered lumber. Also, the Island is still muddy and things need constant cleaning.

The weather since the flood has continued to be wet and damp, which was not the case in January. Anybody with a locker on the ground floor will have to deal with mud, mold and mildew. And, although we don't think we lost any canoes this time around, you might want to check on yours just to be sure.

The fall flowers were washed away with most of the undergrowth, which gives an unusual visibility for this time of year. A domestic barnyard duck has been swept here from someplace upstream. I've been feeding it corn and maybe it will stay and keep our goose company (although I'm not sure the goose wants a duck for company).

The clouds parted for a brief instant the other night and we were able to view the lunar eclipse from the ferry.

Personally, I'm ready for a long spell of dry clear sunny skies, but I'm afraid the weather report continues to predict rain and clouds into next week.

Come enjoy the fall, but be sure to bring your boots.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker