Thursday, April 19, 2018

Flood flood, go away

    As I mentioned before, it’s rainy season in the Mara! Unfortunately this also means that it’s flooding season. We at Talek Fisi Camp live right next to the Talek river, and if we get a large amount of rain we have to be prepared to evacuate camp. What does this entail? So glad you asked!

    We have had to prep for a possible flood evacuation twice since I’ve been here, so I’m pretty familiar with the process now. The first thing we do is pack up the lab tent, putting all our sensitive equipment into dry bags. Dry bags seal up the contents and protect them from any water damage. The bags could actually be completed submerged without any water getting in, but of course you won’t catch us tossing them into the river to test it! Things that go into dry bags include computers, hard drives, GPSs, our centrifuge, our hyena ID books, and few other important electronics and documents. Everything else we put up on tables to minimize the chance that they’ll get wet. The dry bags go into the cars in the event that we need to drive out of camp to seek higher ground. After everything in the lab tent has been taken care of, we’ll often rush to pack a bag for ourselves in case our tents get in the path of the flood. As you might expect, we take all of our electronics and any special things we want to save, but generally it’s no big deal if some of our clothes get wet.
The river normally
The river during a flood watch
    While we pack up the lab tent, the camp staff is securing the kitchen tent, bringing non-waterproof things to the higher ground of the lab tent and packing the car with perishables. After everything is packed and ready to go, we sit and wait to see if the river will push us out of camp. Thankfully both times I’ve been involved in flood prep, the river has receded and we haven’t had to leave camp. In the event we do need to fully evacuate, we would simply drive the cars out of camp and up a hill to higher ground. At that point there would be nothing to do but sit tight until the river calms down and goes back to its normal level. Flooding is new experience for me, but the fact that we always have a plan in the event of an emergency makes it easy to deal with. I do wish it would stop raining though, I miss seeing the hyenas!

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