We had our little New Years Eve get together with fellow workampers here at the COE Volunteer Village community center. Finger food, yummy snakes and a favorite card game before we called "midnight" at about 9 pm. One of the workampers said that the rangers asked for some volunteers to help out over the weekend at the Visitor Center as they had to work expecting some extra visitors coming to see the Thurmond Dam with the gates open. It is the first time the dam has been opened to vent high water levels in decades.
Normally the Visitor Center is closed on New Years Day, but Marti and I volunteered to man the place for the rangers.
The Visitor Center usually needs one person to run it, but we figured we'd both do it, with one of us being able to run out and pick up lunch, snacks, etc., while the other was there to maintain a radio and phone watch with the duty rangers out in the field. Sort of a nice quite way to earn some more working hours.
What we didn't expect was seemingly as big a flood of people as there was water going over the dam. By 10 am the trickle of people coming in turned into a full scale torrent. There were so many people coming to see the dam that we had to call in additional off duty rangers to come in and handle the traffic jams and keep some people from walking onto rocks below the dam before they slipped and fell in to the river (can't fix stupid).
In no time we had six rangers out with the public and we were overwhelmed with literally hundreds of people entering the Visitor Center. Why?
The Visitor Center is the only place with rest rooms for miles around. Along with answering questions about Thurmond lake and dam, answering phone and radio calls, Marti and I had to restock the restrooms four times with toilet paper and paper towels and empty trash cans.
All tolled, we worked 11 hours before it got so dark that the public stopped coming to see the dam. We finally locked up the Visitor Center with some very exhausted rangers and went home. We estimated we had somewhere around six hundred people come in to the VC. We never had time to stop for lunch or even to snap a picture. A very different sort of a day.
Another couple is manning the VC today (Saturday), but we're going to stop by after lunch to see if they need anything. We're going to be back in the VC on Sunday, but now we know what to expect. The way the dam opening had been publicized in the media, the floods of people is expected to continue.
We actually enjoyed the day, even if it was long and busy. Just glad to help the COE any way we can, and it was made more enjoyable to do a job for a change without a paint brush! :c)
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