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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chicken Little

 Astoria, Oregon ~ December 14, 2010

I guess if there isn't much news, you just exaggerate. (December 15: I've amended this thought to, "It seems that fact-checking is no longer a valid concept when purveying the news." You can read CNN's version here. The hysterical part [if we didn't rely on the media for our information] is that Channel 7, KTLA, included a photo and was still able to report, "ASTORIA, OR (CNN) - A sinkhole devoured an entire block due to continuous rain in an Oregon town. . . . The massive sinkhole opened up, sending the entire block below street level." See the end of this post for more national media nonsense.)

The night before last, this portion of concrete collapsed into the abandoned basement of what used to be the Safeway store on 11th and Duane. Since the Safeway store moved a few years ago, the property was been purchased by the City and has been used as a concrete park and event venue; Sunday Market spills over onto this area during summer. Fortunately, no one was hurt and we get another intriguing glance into the underpinnings (or lack thereof) of Astoria's downtown area.


Much of Astoria's downtown is built on pilings, and some of them must be getting very old by now. But it is not a sinkhole, with caverns sucking down the earth and no obvious end in sight. It was suggested that recent heavy rains had caused pooling which broke the concrete. They rains have been extremely heavy and prolonged, and I expect contributed to the weakening of what structures there were down there, because there have been heavier weights on it before, such as vehicles. The Bank of America's temporary housing - a huge mobile thing - had been parked a few feet away for months after the bank burned down in 2008.


I've shown pictures on the blog before from several points in Astoria where the edges of this warren are always available to look at.


What's amusing is the way the media handled it. Associated Press said that "a vacant city block" had collapsed, and another report gave the area as "an entire city block." Hardly true, as the hole is not even the size of one lot. Most of the media is calling it a "sinkhole," which makes it sound geological, mysterious, giantic, and omnivorous. Obviously, none of the above. This is why one of my friends is so adamant about questioning historical reports and word-of-mouth accounts. The "local" Portland news got it right, except for using the charged word "sinkhole." Any idea how this event will be remembered?

Here's another one that got it right. I didn't realize the fence was already up when the concrete caved in.

This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.

12 comments:

~Cheryl said...

Interesting --- in so many ways! This record breaking rain we've been having is getting old. Stay safe, and sane!

Gayle said...

Sheryl -

That shaky, fragile "built over the top of it" structure extends at least 2 blocks further south to Franklin, before the hill really starts climbing. As kids growing up in the 50's and 60's we knew some of the access points and did LOTS of exploring under there.

In the early to mid 60's there was a "gang" that really knew the "under the surface" parts of downtown and did a fair amount of burglarizing by coming up from underneath into businesses along Bond, Commercial and Duane between about 6th and 16th!

Same is true, to some extent, along Marine Drive in Uniontown where many business at turn of the century or later and before had "shanghi holes" in the floors of their stores.

cieldequimper said...

Ummm, a bit scary though, wouldn't you say?

VP said...

That's a really big hole!

Greensboro Daily Photo said...

As City Daily Photo blogs, sometimes we have to show the bad and the ugly! That hole is pretty dramatic!

Francisca said...

Interesting post from many perspectives; also what Gayle wrote. The exaggerated reporting, though, is ugly and rather prevalent; with slashed budgets it seems one media outlet will gladly get its news stories from another, without any checking. In this case one could argue that it is harmless, but many tourist destinations are badly hurt when an event reported badly scares off a major means of income. It's the cause of all kinds of misconceptions.

Francisca said...

PS. Isn't the CNN link missing?

tapirgal said...

Francisca, the link is there. The page says KTLA, but the dateline is CNN.

TheFrogBag said...

Wow, interesting! Whenever I know a little about something in the news (for instance, did you hear about the man that died right outside the PB Mansion?) I'm always amazed at how wrong the media reports are! And then they just repeat each other!

Clytie said...

I saw the story on KPTV here in the valley, and thought of you! I figured you would get pictures ... and I was right! How very interesting - not exactly what the rest of the world pictured is it?

Makes me wonder about everything else we hear about on CNN/media.

Jacob said...

Fascinating, isn't it? Seems like the entire media thinks they have to copy FAUX News! Love your photos! Maybe you ought to become a photo/journalist so we can get the straight facts about what's happening in our world!

Anonymous said...

for years there's been talk about a memorial to Mrs. J.J. Astor...what could be more fitting than a hole in the ground? a nice yang to complement the ying of the Astor Column

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