Friday, October 02, 2015

Reporting from Hurricane Joaquin - Potomac River Tidal Basin - Coltons Point, Maryland


How often do I get a chance to show you where Coltons Point is located? Never.  Of course I do write about St. Clement's Island which is a few hundred feet out in the water from Coltons Point and it was the site of the pilgrim landing in 1634.

Once the settlers decided the Indians lining the shore and watching them were not hostile, they moved from the island to the shore and St. Clement's Manor was formed.  At the time the Manor territory included Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia and reached well into New Jersey.

All you need to remember is that Coltons Point is the oldest continuously occupied chartered community in the continental United States, we have now been here for 381 years.  Of course Jamestown, Virginia (1608) and Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts (1620) were the first two landings of pilgrims but neither settlement survived through the end of the 1600's, just Colton Point.

So I moved down here about a dozen years ago to write books since there is nothing else to do here and this weekend I will be celebrating my fourth hurricane in the Potomac Tidal basin.  I came from landlocked Iowa and I have a lot of friends back in Iowa and Nebraska so I thought I would give you a running account of the impact of Hurricane Joaquin.

As you can see from the maps, we are just up river from the point where the Potomac River hits the Chesapeake Bay.  For a frame of reference, you should know the Potomac is up to seven miles wide at this point, and over 100 feet deep.

My house sits between the River and a small inlet, or bay, less than 100 feet from the water either way.  From my porch I can see both bodies of water and from the second floor I can see much more of the river.

St. Clement's Island in horizon

As part of the tidal basin, we get ocean tides all the way up past Washington, D.C., which is about 65 miles by water up river.  Here in the Point it is common to get 4 foot tides daily. However, two days ago the weather in the ocean began pushing the water up the bay and river and today all the docks here are underwater, and we still have 72 hours of storms ahead of us.

St. Clement's Lighthouse and Cross
My intent is to file reports as long as the weather allows.  Winds are one problem here since all electric lines are above water.  Flooding is not so big a problem since the river is just a few hundred feet away and no one in their right mind has a place with a basement.  You see, we are only about 5-10 feet above sea level.

A typical hurricane will flood the roads coming to Coltons Point, and cut off access from where I live to the north and south ends of the community, isolating a handful of houses into a temporary island. Water saturation or tress falling generally take out the electric, cable and phone lines leaving us pretty much unable to communicate or get out.

If the eye of the hurricane remains far enough offshore we may not get the high winds, which have been over 100 MPH in the earlier storms.  Trees can still fall if their roots are underwater for a long period of time.  The surrounding area from Frederickburg, Virginia to Annapolis have already received over 6 inches of rain with major flooding so we can expect the runoff from up the river.

So that is the situation and I will be posting occasional updates as long as we have electric power.

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