I'm getting some emails about how people can volunteer. It's a pretty simple process in the Fargo Moorhead area. Call 701-476-4000. That's the volunteer hotline number. You can learn more in a post I made on Monday.
If you're heading for the Moorhead side, the central location is the Nemzek Field House on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus. From there, they bus you out to sandbag sites.
In Grand Forks, the hotline number is (701) 787-8052. This hotline is for people looking to volunteer, people looking for help from volunteers, and people looking to receive sandbags.
If you're heading to the region, be sure to drop me a note and send a cellphone number.
The daily meeting of officials battling the Red River flood is underway in Fargo.
8:03 a.m. - Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker holds up a gift from his staff, a Moses-like staff, which he says he can use to part the water. Then saying, "we need all the help we can get," he asks an official from the Salvation Army to begin a prayer.
8:05 a.m. - The river is rising three feet a day. "We going to be at 40 tomorrow. I've used the term 'uncharted territory' because it's a learning curve for all of us." He says at a meeting last night the city was being criticized as unorganized. Not at all what I've seen.
8:08 a.m. - Mark Bittner, the Fargo city engineer, says they have "some concerns" that already have some seepage. They're going to start building "secondary levees." Efforts today will include further protecting the city water plant and the water treatment plant.
8:10 a.m. - 76th Avenue in Fargo will be closed today. Highway 81 will be closed between the Wild Rice river and the Maple Prairie subdivision.
8:13 a.m. - A warning that residents who "want to come out, have to come out during the day." The county sheriff says people who refused to be evacuated by boat yesterday called this morning at 1 or 2 "angry at us for not coming to get them."
8:17 a.m. - "We are not abandoning anybody," Walaker says to news of complaints that secondary dikes in neighborhoods are isolating them.
8:18 a.m. - Here's the 7:15 flood projection. It's not pretty.
8:19 a.m. - Tim Mahoney, Fargo city administrator: "I might get tears in my eyes like the mayor soon because the volunteers have been terrific. But, buck it up because you have to do it one more day."
8:20 a.m. - On Wednesday, another half million sand bags were produced by volunteers working on the Fargo side. The focus today is getting bags delivered as quickly as possible. "Anytime you see Bison basketball shirts standing next to Sioux Hockey shirts, we've really come together and that's a story that needs to be told," an official says.
By the way, you saw than Than Tibbetts great video, right? No? Here.
8:28 a.m. - Public safety officials are asking people not to drive directly to sandbag sites. Go to the sites where buses will take people there.
8:36 a.m. - Sara Lepp, the volunteer coordinator said people from Florida, Alaska, and Michigan have showed up to help. "It's not just Minnesota and North Dakota," she said.
8:38 a.m. - Steve Carbno of the Salvation Army says "we're going to be stretched thin today."
"Any time you see the Red Cross and the Salvation Army working hand in hand, that's a good thing," he said. Hmmm.
"Any time you see the Red Cross and the Salvation Army working together, that's a disaster," Walaker said.
8:40 a.m. - Sherl Thomsen of the Minnkota Red Cross says they're opening shelters. Four more are on standby.
8:42 a.m. - An animal shelter is being set up at the Red River fairgrounds. The Minnesota animal disaster coalition is enroute.
At a news conference afterward, Walaker said the mood of the area is still good, "but there's maybe 10 percent of the people who are having difficulty with this."
"I give us a 4-to-1 shot at winning this thing," he later said. "And those are good odds at any horse track in the country."(2 Comments)
The Red River can be very sneaky. This is what's happening now at 3521, the home of Todd and Donna Morse. Through the morning, they've been adding width to the sandbag dike in their backyard, the river is now touching the sandbag dike, but it's strong and well built.
We took a break for lunch, and then found that a drain along the edge of their swimming pool was the Red's way in. Now they're trying to get the drain covers off to plug the unexpected breach.
A Shop Vac is borrowed from John Brummer next door. Sump pumps are being deployed.
Without admitting defeat at the dike, their son "Hoss" orders sandbagging to begin around the door to the house.
"There'll be no happy pictures of us today," Donna says to me.
All of the attention is no longer on reinforcing the massive dike at 43 feet; it's on a 4 foot drain embedded in concrete.
Meanwhile, the river isn't waiting. Here's the view today.
Note that stick. It marks the expected crest at 41 feet:
I took that picture at 11 this morning. I took this one just 45 minutes later.
As the Morses and John Brummer work outside, they probably don't know that the city wants them to start thinking about getting out. They issued this alert:
There has been no breach to the dike system; however due to the significance of the flood threat, the City recommends you prepare to evacuate your home as this area is vulnerable to flooding. Take the following actions to prepare your home and evacuate to a location outside of the flood area:
Please seek shelter with family or friends outside of the flood zone to conserve semergency resources. A Red Cross public shelter will be available at 3:00 PM today at Moorhead High School, 2300 4th Avenue South.
Bring your identification and a 7 - 10 day supply of medications
Pets will NOT be accepted at the Red Cross shelter. Animal shelter may be available at the Doggy Depot (3224 8th Street South, 218-236-DOGS) and the Mutt Hut (1214 Main Avenue, 218-236-9935). Call ahead; please bring your animal's food and health records.
Pet shelter space is extremely limited, so please try to make accommodations with family or friends outside of the flood zone.
Before you evacuate, call 218-477-4747 to register your home's address and temporary location so emergency personnel and your family and friends can know you are safe and how to reach you.
If you need assistance with relocation, please call the relocation hotline 218-477-4747.
Prepare your property for dike failure/sewer failure as follows:
Plug all sewer drains including floor drains and sinks in lower levels
Shut water off (if you need assistance with water shut off, call 218-477-4747)
Leave electricity and natural gas services on
Up the block, none of the thousands of volunteers who have been bused in are ready to give the Red River the satisfaction:
Volunteers pick up sandbags in their trucks and haul them back to their backyards where volunteers seem to appear out of nowhere to form a chain to deliver them to the three-mile-long wall.
"Swing, don't drop," Hoss instructs the group of mostly rookie sandbaggers. During breaks, he asks his grandfather for another "chew" to provide his energy.
Then the saddest two words this week are shouted. "Last one."
The volunteers pause for a moment, then realize John may need help next door.
When there's no sandbags to throw, Donna's mother, Eileen, serves up soup in the garage with the enthusiasm that a good bowl of corned beef soup can stop a flood. She tells me the story of helping out in St. Peter after the tornado left the town devastated in the '90s.
The Red River isn't kidding around. But neither is Riverview Circle.(4 Comments)
As a Code Red was issued this afternoon, signifying an evacuation is possible from Riverview Circle, and the surrounding neighborhoods, the Morses and John Brummer were not giving up.
After uploading the video, I'm heading back into the neighborhood. My motel is just around the corner. A note slipped under the door a few minutes ago announces "We're in Code Red. Please be prepared to evacuate at short notice."
I'm not leaving unless the Morses and Brummers do.(5 Comments)
This is Riverview Circle's response to Moorhead's Code Red that indicates evacuations are likely. Another pickup with another load of sandbags has just pulled into John Brummer's garage and another crowd of volunteers has arrived to stack it on the sandbag dike that rings this neighborhood along three miles of shoreline.
I asked him if he has a plan if this effort fails and he says his house is a foot above the crest line. For the record, he's not thinking it won't work, of course. "We've given it the good fight," he said. And for the first time in three days, his smile waned and his humor gave way for a second. So he paused, clapped his hands twice, and headed out to the sandbags.
There's still work to be done.
Buses are still streaming into the neighborhood, but getting enough sandbags has been problematic all afternoon.
Throughout Moorhead this afternoon, police are escorting conveys as if they're in charge of the nation's money supply. In a way, they are. On Riverview Circle -- and most of the Red River Valley -- the only currency that matters today is a filled sandbag.
Posted at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2009
by Than Tibbetts
Here is a 360-degree view of the Island Park levee in Fargo. The permanent levee was originally built to about 41 feet, though it has since settled to 40 feet in some spots.
Click to see the full-size panorama.
With the higher river crest projections, New Jersey-based Portadam, Inc. was called in and was installing a portable cofferdam on top of the levee this morning.
The large brick building in the panorama is Prairie St John's Clinic -- it's well below the levee. See a satellite view of the area.(1 Comments)
A little before 8 tonight, the word came. An evacuation of this neighborhood -- including the motel where I've been staying -- is now mandatory. The fight is over. We're now flood refugees. Since I'd already written a lengthy piece, I'll post it as written.
There is the message we got:
As of 3:00 PM today, the National Weather Service issued a revised forecast that the Red River will crest at 42 feet on Saturday, March 28th. Based upon this prediction, the City of Moorhead local Law Enforcement officials direct that ALL residents within the area South of I-94 and West of 8th Street evacuate the area immediately.
Please seek shelter with family or friends outside of the flood zone to conserve emergency resources. A Red Cross public shelter is available at Moorhead High School, 2300 4th Avenue South.
Bring your identification and a 7 - 10 day supply of medications.
Bring baby supplies if you have an infant.
Pets will NOT be accepted at the Red Cross shelter. Animal shelter may be available at the Doggy Depot (3224 8th Street South, 218-236-DOGS) and the Mutt Hut (1214 Main Avenue, 218-236-9935). Call ahead; please bring your animal's food and health records. Pet shelter space is extremely limited, so please try to make accommodations with family or friends outside of the flood zone.
Once you are at a safe location, call 218-477-4747 to register your home's address and temporary location so emergency personnel and your family and friends can know you are safe and how to reach you.
If you need assistance with relocation, please call the relocation hotline 218-477-4747.
If your family needs special assistance with relocation, you may also contact the Clay County Emergency Operations Center at 299-7768.
(Here's my conversation with MPR's Tom Crann on All Things Considered tonight. Listen)
Nobody was giving up on Riverview Circle, but they're not ignoring reality, either. There were a fair number of people biting their lips late on Thursday as word spread that the new crest projection suggests a 43 foot crest. That sent homeowners to the backyard to look -- again -- at the Red River from behind their sandbag fortresses -- fortresses that they've worked again to raise to ... 43 feet.
Todd and Donna Morse have a Plan B.
The smaller of their vehicles has been parked at their church on higher ground. The larger one is ready to be filled, if need be. The younger kids have been sent off with relatives. The family pictures are being sent out this evening. Their son, "Hoss", who spent the day seemingly holding the Red River off singlehandedly, will be back tonight to keep an eye on the sandbags.
Here's what he'll see:
Compare it to Wednesday:
Meanwhile, next door at John Brummer's house, a bucket brigade is still at work moving sandbags to a low spot where his sandbag dike meets the neighbor on the far side.
"Seepage" is occurring because the water has now reached the sandbags. They're frozen and won't fill in any gaps the water eats away.
This trickle doesn't seem like much...
But it is. Down the street, Moorhead firefighters have found a poorly constructed sandbag wall, and are rushing sandbags in. If there's a weakness in this neighborhood, that may be it. There's also rumors that there are icebergs in the river and if one hits a sandbag, the show is over. These are things that are keeping Riverview Circle up at night.
Here's the view at John Brummer's back door:
By the way, I've been passing along your best wishes and they obviously are too busy to jump online and read them now, but they will.
Update 9:23 p.m. The motel bar is full (the motel is just around the corner from the neighborhood and is in the evacuation zone). I'm guessing if people leave, it won't be until tomorrow.
Update 9:31 p.m. - We've been ordered out by 6 a.m..(5 Comments)