Friday, October 19, 2012

Dry ground under a bell

Shown here is the World Peace Bell in Newport, Kentucky, right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.  I spent most of my childhood not far from here.   About five blocks away from the bell is the Ohio itself.  In another direction, a large levee protects Newport from the Licking River where it empties into the Ohio. 

One look at a map will tell you that this spot must vulnerable to flooding. Yet I remember hearing in school how the terrible flooding of the Ohio River was now a thing of the past, and the Ohio River was now under control.   The traumatic flooding in 1937 prompted a spate of dam building that have controlled the river since then.  From childhood I witnessed plenty of flooding in nearby creeks and streams, but the Ohio River never seemed to rise to approach the flood boundaries that have been created.  A low-lying airport might be unusable for a while, and a few other spots were prone to getting wet, but nothing too bad.

In my climate change-sensitized adulthood, though, I wonder if this is still true. The banks of these two rivers have been developed beyond recognition, with tens of millions of dollars in attractive real estate now on low-lying ground. Riverfront Stadium as well as a new sports palace whose name I don't even know look awfully exposed to me as a I drove by.  Much more is at stake than there was during my school days.  A quick search shows that there has been some minor to moderate flooding in recent years, but nothing as damaging as the Mississippi.

In any event, the World Peace Bell is worth a visit.  Newport and Covington were always the uncontained id for straitlaced Cincinnati, and an economy built on vice and pleasure seems to have resulted into many funky, attractive old building being gentrified -- threatening waters notwithstanding. You may use my photo with a creative commons license of your choice.

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