Thursday, March 26, 2009

Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: March 26 - Fargo and Beyond

"Outside Fargo, a flood fight without the spotlight"
The Associated Press (March 26, 2009)

"OXBOW, N.D. (AP) — Adrenaline and two hours of sleep got Mike Wieser through the night. But as he gasped for air and looked wearily at his country home slowly being absorbed by a lake of flood water, the new father looked like he would soon be running on empty...."

Kudos to the AP, for an article that's about the Red River Valley of the North Flood, but not about Fargo. Yes, Fargo North Dakota (and, although I've heard zilch, probably Moorhead, Minnesota, across the river), is having real problems. And a whole lot of people live in Fargo.

But, people live all up and down the Valley (which, despite the name, is some of the flattest real estate on the planet).

"Record Fargo flood forecast; prayer replaces jokes"
The Associated Press (March 26, 2009)

"FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's largest city moved to the brink of potentially disastrous flooding Thursday, with earlier optimism fading as officials predicted the Red River would reach a record-high crest of 41 feet by the weekend.

"Thousands of volunteers who have been piling sandbags for days scrambled to add another foot to Fargo's dike protection, and official briefings lost the jokes and quips that had broken the tension earlier in the week. Instead, Thursday's meeting opened with a prayer.

" 'We need all the help we can get,' Mayor Dennis Walaker said...." .

Walaker 's got a point.

The AP gives the population as 92,000 - that may or may not count suburbs - yes, Fargo has suburbs - but certainly doesn't count Moorhead, the eastern part of the metropolitan area.

I think I see some of the local and regional culture, reflected in the AP story:

" 'I was skeptical as far as volunteers coming out today, but they're like mailmen,' [Fargo's emergency management director Leon] Schlafmann said. 'They come out rain, sleet or shine.'

"Schlafmann also said he is confident the dikes will hold even through several days of high water. 'We might lose a neighborhood or a few homes, but we won't lose the whole city,' he said...."

Fargoans are working to protect their city. They'll take what help they can get: but they're doing something themselves, outside help or no.

"Weary but determined iReporters fight floodwaters"
CNN (March 26, 2009)

" (CNN) -- Jennifer Sondag looks up at a wall of sandbags nearly twice her 5-foot-7-inch height and knows she's done a great work for her parents and their neighbors. She also knows she's nowhere near done.

" 'Hopefully, they'll hold the water and everything will be fine, but you just have to prepare for the worst,' said Sondag, 23, an iReport contributor for CNN. 'And after a while of doing that it really bogs down on your emotions, and it really gets tough physically and tough emotionally.'

"She's been helping build up a dike in her parents' Moorhead, Minnesota, neighborhood for days to ..."

That's the sort of Fargo-Moorhead people I remember: practical, for the most part; often Scandinavian; hard-working, for the most part; and often on the tall side.

"Mayor says Fargo faces 'uncharted territory' with flooding"
CNN (March 26, 2009)

"FARGO, North Dakota (CNN) -- Flood-threatened Fargo bolstered dikes and braced itself Thursday ahead of what the city's mayor called "uncharted territory" with the swollen Red River.

" 'We're talking about the river on Friday going to approximately 40 feet and 41 feet on Saturday,' Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker told CBS.

" 'Nobody can dispute those figures,' he said. 'We're into the contingency dikes now, and what they are is a secondary dike to protect the city in case the first line of defense fails.'..."

That's good news. I sincerely hope they don't need the contingency dikes - but this is going to be a big flood.

"500 homes threatened by flood in Minn. township"
The Associated Press (March 26, 2009)

"MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) — A low-lying township along the Red River in Minnesota is in a desperate fight to save 500 of its 550 homes.

"Oakport Township Chairman Greg Anderson says he knows of a few homes that have already flooded. About 50 homes in the township north of Moorhead are thought to be safe...."

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I remember Oakport: It's a place that, as I recall, grew one house at time. Since it wasn't a 'development,' each owner kept old-growth trees. It was - and probably is - a very attractive community. And, I trust, will be again, after Oakporters dry their places out.

Related posts: In the news: List of posts about this flood:

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