(Being the continuing story of the hurricane/frankenstorm/post-tropical cyclone of late October 2012. I also invite you to read accounts by Middle Daughter and Oldest Daughter.)

I thought about sleeping in the Laurelville office last night. I figured if anything exciting developed as a result of Hurricane Sandy, I would be close by. Certainly, everyone seems to gravitate to the waterfall behind the office any time we have interesting weather. But in the end, it was too dark to really see anything well, and I decided to sleep in the comfort of my own bed.

But I was awake before sunrise so that I could get out in the earliest morning light!

Here was the sight from our bedroom balcony this morning…

Bedroom viewYou can see that Sandy left us some snow. We’ve continued to get a rain/snow mix throughout the day, but there hasn’t been any snow accumulation.

As soon as I was dressed, I set out for the main part of camp. Just beyond the basement door, our little unnamed creek (dry during the summer) was pressing in on our foundation…

The view from our basement door
The view from our basement door

And once on the road to camp, it was clear Jacob’s Creek was running high…

Jacob's Creek
Jacob’s Creek as seen from Laurelville Lane near the Albert property.

For the first time I can remember, I heard low booming sounds as large rocks tumbled down the creek and smashed against one another.

When I arrived at the office, I found out just how powerful the creek could be. It had eroded away the bank below the waterfall, eventually creating a three-foot-wide sinkhole right in one of the most frequently visited spots on the campus. Thankfully, no one has been hurt, and the area is now taped off.

Sinkhole and waterfall
Don’t get too close! The ground may be soft!

Other Laurelville staff had gathered on the terrace and were fighting a mixture of caution and curiosity. Should we stay away (not knowing how soft the remaining ground might be) or should we investigate (drawn by the irresistible desire to see what was at the bottom)? It turns out that the sight of water sloshing in the bottom of the hole was scary enough to make most of us back off.

The wall (above, on the right) by Metzler cabin was the only thing holding back the creek. Otherwise, the office (and downstream parts of the camp) would have received some flooding.

What is it about water that fascinates us? I spent a long time watching…

Throughout the last two days, we’ve been closely measuring the creek height on the gauge on the far bank. Here’s what we’ve observed (with apologies for the 12-hour gap overnight).

Sandy-influenced creek height
Jacob’s Creek water levels at Laurelville, October 29-30

The water was nearly two feet higher this morning than it was at the same time yesterday morning – a dramatic rise resulting from over four inches of rain total, including two overnight. But with the rain tapering off, the level started to come back down just as quickly. (As I write, the total precipitation from the storm stands at 4.3″.)

Before setting out to tour the rest of the camp, I created a panorama of the scene at “Waterfall Terrace”. (Click for a larger image.)

Waterfall Terrace at 9:30 am
Waterfall Terrace overlooking Jacob’s Creek at Laurelville (10/30/2012 at 9:30 am)

As I strolled around camp this morning, all the Sandy-derived excitement seemed to have been water-related. (Interestingly, we never did get the predicted winds.) This was the view where Jacob’s Creek goes under the bridge near the end of Laurelville Lane:

Jacob's Creek under Mennonite Camp Road
The view of Jacob’s Creek from the bridge on Mennonite Camp Road, October 30, 2012.

Everywhere else, you might just guess that it was a cold, wet fall day…


The day’s final excursion was a hike to Pine Run. The Ordinary Family bundled up and slogged up the trail to one of Jacob’s Creek’s tributaries. Generally, one can jump from rock to rock to get to the other side (and then hike to the farthest reaches of Laurelville’s property, where Pittsburgh is visible on a clear day). Today, crossing Pine Run was out of the question…

Pine Run
Pine Run

In many places, the water had left its usual course and was just flowing down the mountainside wherever it pleased.

Pick a path! Any path!
Pick a path! Any path!

It’s time to bring this massive report to a close. I see that as of 5 pm, the low pressure center of what was once Sandy is sitting right over us. Nevertheless, the rain and snow have really died down. We might get another three-quarters of an inch of precipitation, which would bring our storm total to about five inches. However, it will be spread out over the rest of the week and shouldn’t cause any additional water problems. Wind speeds are now predicted to remain low – around 10 mph.

And so, it appears that the Sandy saga is drawing to a close. Just in time to welcome 400 junior-high students to Laurelville this weekend for mud games!

Advertisements