Flood life limited to essentials-only activitiesby Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio
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. Many businesses are closed and people are doing what they can to conserve water, too.
Moorhead, Minn. — Kate Lucero of Moorhead shops for pop at a local grocery store. She and her friends plan to cook up a storm while they stay indoors. Lucero said the streets are quiet, with only pockets of activity; at grocery stores, gas stations, and fastfood places.
The McDonald's, where Lucero works, is one of the few businesses in Moorhead that has stayed open.
"We're just getting a lot more business than we usually do because other places have been shut down," Lucero said. "And people are coming to get stuff to help out their sandbaggers who are coming over to their house."
Across the river in Fargo, city officials are taking a different approach. They're asking all non-essential businesses to continue to stay closed so people stay off the streets. Things need to stay clear for emergency vehicles and crews. In Moorhead, the mayor has asked businesses to use their own judgment whether to stay open. He's also advised people to keep driving at a minimum, especially during the blizzard, and help conserve water.
Kate Lucero has been following the mayor's advice. Her home wasn't affected by floodwaters. She has access to water, but she's keeping her water use at a minimum even though she's not happy about it. Lucero hasn't been able to do any laundry.
"My friend's mom went to Fergus Falls to go to the laundry mat," Lucero said. "So [we're] kind of finding it difficult to get clean clothes. I think I might have to have to go to Wal-Mart in a few days to get some clean stuff."
Keeping clothes clean isn't something Melissa Anderson has had to worry about. She has a six-month-old baby, so she and her husband drove to a friend's cabin for a few days to make sure they were out of harm's way. Anderson was able to do laundry there. Now that she's back in her relatively safe and dry home, she's trying to stay indoors as much as she can, and drives only to get food, water, and milk. She said Moorhead feels like a ghost town.
"You know, it's a little scary," Anderson said. "We've got all the guard people here. In some sense it's about safety. But it also feels a little scary having all the trucks and the helicopters and everything going by. It's just a little unnerving, but we're just praying for the best."
A few aisles away, Treva Watnemo and her son Matt stock up on food and water. Watnemo said she's trying to do her part by sticking to her neck of the woods.
"We have pretty much stayed at home and only going out when we've needed something or like now to get ready for the blizzard coming in." Treva Watnemo said. "Always hearing to not add to the congestion for traffic so that they crews that are working, the sand trucks and emergency vehicles have a clear passage through the arteries of our city."
Her family's biggest concern is to have enough bottled water on hand. City officials say it's safe to drink the tap water, but it tastes bad. Watnemo said it also feels strange not having to go to work. She works for the Moorhead school district.
"You don't feel like you're on vacation because you've got the heaviness of what could happen on your mind, but it will be so wonderful to get back to normal and to get back together again and work with the kids," she said.
All Watnemo and other people in both cities along the Red River can do for now is to make regular checks on the basement sump pump and make sure their drains stay closed to prevent backup. It will be days, maybe weeks until normal returns.
- Morning Edition, 03/31/2009, 6:20 a.m.