Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: March 31: News Added As I find It

10:00 p.m.
"Libraries Closed, But So Far Safe as Red River Flood Crests"
The Associated Press (March 31, 2009) (5 hours ago)

"The good news so far is that the Red River has retreated slightly in the last 24 hours, and a wintry storm that hit the Fargo, ND, region has not weakened sandbag dikes and levees, as officials feared. Floodwaters this week remain over 40 feet, more than 20 feet above the flood point to levels not seen in some 100 years, and the threat of more serious flooding has left libraries in the region closed, as those nearest to the flood plain have been urged to evacuate. Officials in Moorhead, MN, which borders Fargo, ND, have urged roughly a quarter of its 35,000 residents to evacuate.

"Although Fargo officials remain wary of the flood’s potential to worsen, it appears libraries and their collections in the region are safe for now. Nevertheless, according to the North Dakota State University (NDSU) library web site 'in order to allow faculty, staff and students to attend to any flood issues they are facing, and to allow other members of the community to continue to volunteer,' the library has closed until April 6. 'This is not an evacuation,' the message stressed. 'NDSU remains in a safe area in Fargo.' The Fargo Public Library, has cancelled programming until April 3...."

This is good news. I'd been concerned about the collections at NDSU, Concordia, and MSU-M. People take priority, but it's nice to know that the books are comparatively safe. There's an awful lot of data there, the sort that's not so easy to back up.

And, kudos to The Associated Press, for (apparently) checking the facts before running with the story. I wonder if The Australian has found out, yet, if Fargo only has one university: and that it's not flooded?
9:45 p.m.
"NDSU student from Cedar City shares Red River flooding story"
The Spectrum (March 31, 2009)

"CEDAR CITY — Caitlin Dancer will never underestimate Mother Nature after witnessing the unrelenting rising waters of the Red River. The 2006 Redmen graduate will receive her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations in May from North Dakota State University but has acquired more than an education with the recent experience of sand-bagging to preserve the towns of Fargo and Moorhead.

" 'You can’t really think about yourself in that sort of situation when you know it really means a lot to help other people,' Dancer said, a 2006 Cedar High School graduate. 'I feel better about being a part of an experience, especially with seeing people in Fargo making the best of the situation. They never hung their heads. It was 1 a.m. and freezing in a cold warehouse yet no one complained. Everyone looked at it as the glass was half full and so many people came together.'..."

Kudos to Caitlin, and all the others who have been - and are - volunteers in the Red River Valley of the North.
"Red will crest again after snow starts melting"
(March 31, 2009) (1 hour ago‎)

"FARGO, N.D. - The Red River continued retreating from its record-setting flood level today, but not as fast as the snow was falling -- at a rate that could set a record of its own.

"Fargo and its sister city of Moorhead already have been buried with more than six inches of new snow Monday and today and could receive as much as another foot by the time the storm blows through. Taken together, that would be triple the existing record for those two dates.

"The continuing blizzard has all but strangled the region, with raging winds and blowing snow creating a whiteout and glazing roads...."

There's a winter storm warning on for my part of central Minnesota - until 7 tomorrow morning. Or maybe 7 tonight. Someone on the radio said one thing. The Wunderground repeat of what the National Weather Service issued says 'tomorrow morning' - I'm guessing the NWS knows what its forecast said, better than someone doing radio news.

Locally, it's not so bad: but then, Sauk Centre hasn't had to build dikes this Spring.

(from Star-Tribune, used w/o permission)

"Obama Says U.S. 'Must Respond' to Flood Potential in Midwest"
The Washington Post (March 31, 2009) (8 hours ago)

"President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address today to reach out to the people of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by the rising of the Red River.

" 'Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond - and respond urgently," the president said.

"Obama on Tuesday declared a major disaster in North Dakota, where the river was expected to crest Sunday at 42 feet. He has also declared a disaster in Minnesota, on the other side of the Red.

"For the president, the surging Red River presents an early test of a promise that he made during his campaign for the White House: to make sure the federal government treats disasters with the seriousness they deserve...."

The Lemming, and this blog, aren't political: but what the Lemming has to say isn't so much political, as practical.

Getting a kazillion dollars from the feds will help, in the short run.

I'm very glad to see the National Guard and other parts of the American military in the Red River Valley of the North, helping as they can. I haven't read about it, but my guess is that the governors of North Dakota and Minnesota, being nobody's fools, did their paperwork and asked for help: instead of complaining about how the feds weren't doing enough.

I'm grateful to everyone: Americans, and (probably) Canadians, who came to the Fargo-Moorhead area to help. (I haven't read about Canadian volunteers - but I haven't noticed that much of a cultural difference across the border from the upper Midwest.)

But, I'd just as soon that the feds leave us alone. The kind of megabucks that federal programs promise is nice for a budget.

But seriously: we're Minnesotans and Dakotans. We know how to fill sandbags, and pile them in dikes: and we're willing to do so. We don't need somebody telling us who should pile which sandbags where.

Okay, the Lemming's done ranting, and will now put the soapbox back in his tool shed.
"Major snow storm could slow down Red River flood recovery"
Rachel Becker, Omaha Top News Examiner, Examiner.com ("get inside Minneapolis") (March 30, 2009) (4 hours ago)
(I know: They must have posted something submitted yesterday)

"A major snow storm that is expected to hit the Dokotas Monday night and Tuesday morning is not expected to significantly raise water levels in the already overflowing Red River, but it could create havoc on many other levels as Fargo and the rural areas around it struggle to get back to their normal lives.
"The result is a sort of 'crosswind stop-and-start recovery.' For example, the city's biggest hospital has started admitting patients again after suspending this last week because of the high flood alerts. The overall high flood threat level was lowered to '"alert"' from '"high alert,"' as water levels continued to slowly decline.

"However, the new worry for city officials is that the heavy snow storm and its strong winds could make evacuations and emergency operations, such as monitoring the still-stressed levee system, more difficult and dangerous. The strong winds associated with the storm may worsen erosion of sand dikes and earthwork defenses...."

This is a pretty good report. That typo ("Dokotas" for "Dakotas") is in copy from the 'real' news. R. Becker may have keyed it in: But I'd say there's a 50/50 chance that she cut-and-pasted it from a 'real' news service.

I cut-and-paste my quotes, too: but when they've got goofy errors, I'll occasionally point them out. Which Becker probably can't: She's most likely looking at a career in journalism, and you don't advance your career by pointing out how slipshod your superiors' work is.

The headline of this piece, "Major snow storm could slow down Red River flood recovery," is a monumental bit of obviousness: but it did it's job. It caught my attention, grabbed, actually, and induced me to read the story. Which a headline is supposed to do.

The story itself is good reporting: accurate, concise, and addressing a very real set of concerns in Fargo, North Dakota, and the surrounding area.

Whither Rachel Becker's Career?

However, I have to wonder if Rachel Becker has what it takes to be a journalist.

Professional journalists, in a major Australian news outlet, The Australian, took a couple flooded buildings on a high school campus, and made them into a swamped university campus, tacitly giving Fargo, North Dakota, an extra university in the process.

Now that's journalism!
Flood-related posts: List of posts about this flood:

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