Thursday, April 2, 2009

Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: April 2: News Added As I find It

2:00 p.m.
"Updated fotage for Red River Flooding"
CGBlog ("An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog")
video (1:42)

"The Coast Guard has released it's latest video encapsulating the flooding going on in the Red River flooding area...."

The production quality is about what you'd find in a well-done home movie. There's sound, starting seven seconds in and ending about 23 seconds later. That's the part taped inside a Coast Guard airboat. The two guys in front are discussing which way to go. Visibility is fine: horizontally. But the land is covered with anywhere from an inch or so to deep-enough-to-sink-a-tractor.

Some of the dialog:

"...Cross right here?

"Waal, I don't know if you can cross right here, but there should be a road, right where those two white, ah, posts are sticking up: right in front of you on the right side...."

It's a good look at how the crew of a Coast Guard airboat evacuated a homeowner whose house was surrounded by water.
1:40 p.m.
"Army Bloggers Roundtable with Maj. Gen. David Spryncznatyk"
Pentagon Web Radio (April 2, 2009) (2 3/4 hour ago)

"Maj. Gen. David Spryncznatyk, Adjutant General, North Dakota National Guard will discuss current Army National Guard operations in support of North Dakota flood victims."

There's an audio recording of the roundtable - a telephone conference call.

The audio is pretty good quality - although one participant's voice comes through louder than clear.

More to the point, Major General Spryncznatyk and the others give an unusually detailed, up-close view of the people and technology involved in dealing with the Red River Valley of the North flood in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

I'm listening to it - second time around - as I write this post. I found out about this discussion, because I'm involved with an Army bloggers' group, as part of my work with another blog. Another War-on-Terror Blog is not an army, or even a military, blog: but it's not raving anti-military, either, which seems to be what caught the group's attention.

12:50 p.m.
"After Red River flood battle comes recovery debate"
The Associated Press (April 2, 2009) (1 hour ago)

"ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — As the Red River slowly recedes into its banks, soggy flood-fighters along its route are facing a different kind of challenge: Navigating state and federal bureaucracies for help in the recovery.

"Most parts of Moorhead, Minn., and Fargo, N.D., were spared the worst as the river hit its peak over the weekend and the dikes held. But preliminary estimates still suggest tens of millions of dollars in damage to roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants and other public assets, in addition to damage to some homes and businesses.

"The financial toll could climb if this week's heavy snowfall melts quickly and causes a second crest in coming weeks. The short-term forecast held a bit of good news: Temperatures were expected to rise above freezing during daylight hours but stay below freezing overnight, allowing the snow to thaw slowly...."

This part - scraping mud off where roads were, to find out how much of the road is still there, drying off equipment and refurbishing it, negotiating with insurance companies - isn't likely to receive as much attention as the dike-building.

I'm glad that The Associated Press is distributing this story. And particularly glad that the AP mentioned what the flood may have done to infrastructure.

Yesterday I wrote about FEMA officials' desire to evacuate Fargo-Moorhead. Upwards of 170,000 people. Over flooded roads. In a storm season.

It's nice to know that someone, writing for The Associated Press, is aware that flooded roads are not always in tip-top condition.

Sometimes, actually, the road isn't there any more. Or, at least, not where you expect it.

While I was living in Fargo-Moorhead, after a serious flood, I had occasion to drive down a nice, paved, road. The lane markings weren't freshly-painted, but they were far from needing a new coat.

Then, as I approached a bridge, I noticed that the bridge was there, quite undamaged, and so was the road near the bridge. Just one thing: the last hundred yards or so of road, just before the bridge, was about thirty feet north and maybe five feet down, from where it was supposed to be. Also, unevenly tipped toward the north.

The road itself was warped and cracked, but mostly intact: good engineering. The flood in that particular creek hadn't damaged the road: but it had pushed the roadbed about ten yards, into the ditch.

For me, it was no problem: except I wish I'd taken a camera along.

If I'd been the lead driver of a refugee caravan, driving through inch-deep water during near-blizzard conditions - because someone had given evacuation orders - I might have survived when my vehicle fell off the end of the road. Until hypothermia got me, and everybody behind me.

There are times and places where it makes sense to stay where you are, and build dikes.
List of posts about this flood:

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