There is a sense here in the Fargo/Moorhead area that we are prepared. People are more calm than last year. This is probably for several reasons. First, we know we survived a crest level several feet higher than what is predicted for this year. Second, the Fargo/Moorhead area is getting pretty savvy as to how to defend the city against the Mighty Red. Third, flood preparations began several weeks ahead of the actual high water. And lastly, and perhaps this is a bit disconcerting, I have sensed a "ho-hum" attitude about the flood. In other words "Here we go again....".
Last year, I put drain plugs in my home, moved anything of value out of the basement, and took other preparations in anticipation of high water. I have done none of these things this year. Day-to-day life is not affected much for most people except that some city streets and bridges over the Red are closed and the ones that are open in the downtown areas have extremely heavy traffic as a result of those closures.
There is a sense of optimism and a sense that unless something drastic happens we will make it through this flood with flying colors. I hope so.
The weather continued to be gorgeous and sunny. This is quite odd. Two weeks ago, the snow was up to my knees in the front yard, with piles of snow on every street corner, making crossing the street a bit hazardous. Now, there is no snow at all in my yard. It is just gone. The ground is actually more solid and less squishy than yesterday. Looking out my front door, nothing looks at all out of the ordinary. There are no visible preparations for flooding, or anything of the sort in my neighborhood. I continue to receive e-mails from the city regarding trail closures, county road closures, and procedures that officials are following as they watch both the river and the flood wall.
At about 5:30 yesterday, I headed downtown to the river to see if anything was happening there. I saw much more foot traffic than usual, as people want to see what is going on. As I checked out the brand new Riverfront Park, I was lucky enough to see people kayaking down the fast moving river. They came out at the closed canoe access point, so I asked them a few questions. They kayak regularly in the area, and were obviously excited about getting the opportunity to experience the river at this height and speed. They had a really hard time gauging how fast they were traveling, compared to normal conditions, saying that it had to be at least 15 miles per hour. They had been to Land of Memories Park, earlier in the day, kayaking above trails, campsites, and recreation areas that are usually on solid ground. The park has been fully closed, and they said it was quite the experience to be kayaking there.1 Comments)
Steve Schaefer lives in Moorhead on the river. After last year's flood, he and his family made some changes to lower their risk of flooding.
Thanks to the work we did over last summer (filling in our walk-out basement, new landscaping), we're not worrying too much about our home. Our new landscaping takes us above 40' of protection. That means that as long as there are no changes to the crest level, we should not have to sandbag this year. I may need to put down some plastic to cover the fresh soil so it doesn't erode when the water gets up to it, but that will be far easier than building a dike. Hallelujah!
The flood fight is much more organized and coordinated this year. Part of that is due to a predicted crest about 3 feet lower than last year, but the other part is that we've all been anticipating this flood since early in the winter. Both Moorhead and Fargo have done a great job with the upgrades that have been made for city-wide flood protection and the decision by each city to start pre-filling sandbags three weeks ago has paid off immensely.
Living through the floods definitely gives one a great respect for the power of nature and how we have to live in tune with our environment. During the flood last year, there were extreme moments of concern, but the camaraderie of the community effort is something that I will value and remember always. It would not have been possible to successfully protect our home and our community without the incredible effort of everyone in the community as well as all the volunteers from outside Fargo-Moorhead who gave time and effort to help us out.
The mood in the neighborhood seems good. Everyone is happy about the gorgeous sunshine, while I personally can't help but wonder if it is going to accelerate ice melting, adding to the river. My husband, a professor at Minnesota State, reports that some students who commute from out of town have told him that due to possible flooding, they're not sure if they will be able to make it to class in the days ahead. But, even at that, he says that not too many students have said anything.
At this point, I really think people either don't think the river will get that high, or assume the flood wall will prevent any problems. I know that in the last year there have been a few news items about national evaluations of the wall and maintenance costs, so I think people feel secure that the wall has been properly cared for and that they will be safe.(3 Comments)
Mark Olson is a brand consultant living in Fargo. He'll be updating us on what's happening in his community. As he came home to Fargo last night from Moorhead he found the south side of the city bustling with activity.
South of 52nd Avenue there was lots of activity all along the river. Clay dikes being built where possible. Sandbag dikes where heavy equipment can't access.
Lots of people building sandbag dikes in the South Rivershore Drive neighborhood. National Guard out in full force there. Humvee and a trooper at every entrance point.
Lots of heavy trucks hauling clay to areas back in the river bends. It appears the city has everything under control and is confidently progressing as planned.
It is definitely reassuring knowing that the folks who are planning and executing the plan have such good and recent experience.
Although, for everyone's sake, I hope the crest at holds at 38 feet or less. All the folks who fought to protect their homes just a year ago deserve a break.
Mark Olson is a brand consultant living in Fargo. He'll be updating us on what's happening in his community.
My immediate neighborhood is totally calm. No evidence of an impending flood. The threat is weakened greatly by the recent completion of a flood wall and levee that protects the VA Hospital and surrounding neighborhoods.
Immediately south of my home, Elm Street has been closed. It is the lowest street in the city and always the first to close. Adjacent to it, El Zagal golf course is a natural bowl which will fill despite the earthen levee. Mobile pumps already positioned to keep lift stations functional. No sandbagging preparation at the El Zagal Temple, site of a near dike failure last year.
A short distance north of my home, in the Woodcrest neighborhood, no one is sandbagging, but the city has surveyed and marked elevations in everyone's backyard, indicated with stakes and orange flags. This will provide the key reference point for sandbag dikes, should they be needed. Boxed rolls of poly (plastic), for the waterproof barrier under and outside a sandbag dike, have been dropped off on the driveway of each house that is on the river.
A sole National Guard Humvee was parked at an entry point to the North Oaks neighborhood. It appeared they were getting their bearings.
Near my office downtown, the clay dike that is built to protect city hall has risen from nothing on Sunday morning to what appears to be the height needed to safeguard everything if the crest is 38 feet.
The AT&T building has secured their facility with a low sandbag dike, as they did last year. I'm guessing that this must be a strategic communications link that can't go down without larger repercussions.
The local newspaper's web site - InForum - has relayed city and county officials urgent call for sandbaggers in Fargo and Cass County. Schools are dismissing students who volunteer to help.
Plenty of information is available online with daily flood briefing being broadcast on television and radio. No sense of panic whatsoever in my view. Calm confidence in the face of a crest that at 38 feet would be the fourth highest in history, but nothing compared to last year. A sense that it may crest lower than predicted with reports that it has already crested downstream in Wahpeton.
I'm heading out south of Moorhead to help a buddy who lost his fight with the flood last year. I'm sure that he is preparing again to at least meet a 38 foot crest or higher.