The Red River continues to fall steadily. That means residents along the river can take a breath, but many have still been watching pumps and checking dikes now buried under snow.
As the residents of Fargo-Moorhead shovel out from today's snow storm, the flood waters are receding, and some people are beginning to let themselves look to the future.
The Red River continues to drop today in Fargo-Moorhead, even as a heavy snow and powerful wind ravages the communities. The past 10 days have been a huge emotional drain on families as they fight to hold back the river from claiming their towns.
Thousands of National Guard troops and airmen are working around the clock as part of the flood fighting effort in the Red River Valley. Among them are several hundred Minnesota soldiers.
For Fargo's local news media, the story of the Red River flood of 2009 is personal. Most people in this small-town city know someone who's lost their home to the waters.
Strong winds blew heavy, wet snow
around the Fargo-Moorhead area this morning, adding to the strain on residents' spirits
and on the patchwork system of sandbag levees protecting them from the bloated Red River.
Residents of the Red River valley are contending with an early spring blizzard in addition to the flooded river.
The Red River has reached its first crest and is slowly subsiding in Fargo and Moorhead, but the river is still rising as it roars further north. People in places like Perley, Halstad and Shelly are still sandbagging and biting their fingernails. In their towns, the Red River isn't expected to crest for a few days.
This morning city officials in Fargo and Moorhead want people to keep travel at a minimum. They want to keep streets clear for flood fighting crews and emergency vehicles, especially during the snowstorm that'll make for dangerous driving conditions. These precautions have made for quiet cities on both sides of the Red River.
A spring storm has already started to deliver snow to the Fargo-Moorhead area, and high winds along with it may whip up waves that could erode the earthen dikes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began covering vulnerable sections of the dikes with huge sheets of plastic to prevent that.
Fargo's mayor, Dennis Walaker, handles the flooding Red River the same way he deals with federal officials, swarms of reporters, and Fargo citizens -- with a stubborn determination softened by a gentle sense of humor.
The Red River is dropping at Fargo, but
forecasters say there's a good chance it'll be back in the danger range in mid-April. The National Weather Service said Monday that snowmelt and future storms make a second crest of more than 37 feet likely.
Fargo's tired residents stared down a winter
storm Monday expected to carry up to 14 inches of snow and
wind-whipped waves that could worsen the flooding, bringing more
gloominess in a city where people are growing increasingly
frustrated with the drawn-out flood fight.
As the Red River drops, Fargo residents are working to inspect and maintain the city's fragile levee system, which must remain in place until the high waters recede.
People living through the flood of the Red River in the Fargo-Moorhead area are much more connected than they were during the last big flood in 1997. Kids especially, have found new ways to stay in touch with their family and friends.