Breckenridge gets a reprieve from floodingby Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio
The weather caused some unexpected surprises in cities along the Red River. In Breckenridge, Minnesota low rain levels and mild temperatures helped the city. Ice has been melting and the river has been flowing freely. But that's not the case in every community.
Breckenridge, Minn. — Along Oak Street in Breckenridge, you can see the Red River. But there's nothing alarming for Cheri Hought to see from her backyard. In fact, she's sweeping away leaves from her driveway. She notices one major difference between this flood and the flood in 1997.
"There's no water on the street," Hought said. "Yeah that's the main difference. Backyard looks the same. We'll be fine."
Hought's home sits along the bank of the Red River. The water is so calm, her children are playing basketball in the backyard just feet from the water. She says twelve years ago, the water came up to her front door steps.
But since that flood in 1997, the city has invested in a better flood protection system. Paul Beech lives in Breckenridge. He's been volunteering in the sandbagging effort.
"Now we have earthen dikes, pumping stations at locations all over our city along our city," said Beech. "And so we can deal with a lot more water now, and the little bit of sandbagging we did -- even though it was important -- it was a lot less than 1997."
Beech said he also used to live right along the Red River bank in 1997. But after his house flooded that year, he learned his lesson and moved to a different part of town. Beech said the number of people who volunteered from more than eight different communities was so overwhelming, the city bused them to other areas that needed help, like Wolverton, about 20 miles away north.
On the south side of town in Wolverton, volunteers have been building a sandbag dike since Saturday. In four days, more than 100 people have showed up to protect a handful of homes and a church. In 1997, the flood waters didn't get this high in Wolverton. Mayor Nancy Olthoff said this is new for her town.
"We have a gentleman who lives just five miles south of town and he was just there and the river had risen eight and a half inches in six hours," Olthoff said. "So we're expecting with the crest at Breckenridge and Wahpeton, that we'll get a lot of that water."
This is the first time any buildings in Wolverton have been threatened by flood waters. David Newman said even though the flood isn't good news for the town, it has created something good.
"Normally day to day, this is a bedroom community," Newman said. "So we all drive to Fargo and Moorhead and different places like that. I work at North Dakota State University so … it's a bedroom community and we don't get a chance to see each other very often and suddenly we come together and it builds friendships and it gets people working together."
The weather did cooperate for Breckenridge. Now for the residents in Wolverton, it's a matter of waiting to see what the river will do in the next couple of days.