Fargo-Moorhead waits for the next crestby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
People in Fargo-Moorhead are waiting for the second crest of the Red River. It's expected to come in about two weeks, and it could be as high or higher than last week's record crest.
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker advised people to take it easy over the weekend. He said they should rest, and not worry yet about the second crest.
Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn. — About three miles south of downtown Fargo, the Rose Creek Golf Course is surrounded by expensive homes on meandering streets.
It's sunny but chilly, and most people are inside, trying to get their lives back to normal.
Steve Larson and his son head out to toss a softball around. He's not too worried about the second crest.
"I kind of have a lot of faith in our mayor; our mayor's been through it before," Larson says. "My impression of what he's feeling is it's not going to be as high as what the National Weather Service says, but I think we're prepared for what the National Weather Service says, too."
Walking south on the winding streets, you notice a ten-foot-tall clay dike running down the subdivision's main drag, Rose Creek Drive. It splits the neighborhood right down the middle. It's got wooden footbridges, up one side and down the other, about every block.
Erin Gorze pulls up outsider her garage, where she can't park, because it's full of stuff from the basement.
Hers is the house immediately next to the barrier.
"We're on the good side of the dike," she says with a laugh.
She's feeling pretty good, hoping the dike will hold up.
"I wasn't here for the '97 flood, I just moved herel," she says. "It's crazy, all the weather since we moved here -- out of control."
On the other side of the dike, the homes closest to the golf course feel pretty vulnerable. They're on the side where the water is coming from.
For now, the city has plowed a narrow opening in the dike so people can drive into this cul de sac. Cathy Spriggs says for four days she climbed the dike to her car on the other side.
"We are fortunate, we are very thankful when they opened a spot to drive in and out to get into our garage," Spriggs says. "But when you look out and see sandbags and a pile of sand and a porta-potty right outside your door, it just doesn't seem normal yet, but you just try to go on, be thankful you're dry.
She says it makes her a little nervous to be on the "wrong side" of the dike.
"If the sandbags went, of course it would flood this area up to the dike," she says. "But again you just have to trust, and have faith, and believe that you're going to be taken care of."
The family used the weekend to go through boxes they brought up from the basement, sorting and throwing things away.
Down at the end of the street, fourteen-year-old Ian Bullis scrapes clay off the driveway and piles it on the snow in the yard. His dad, Jim Bullis, supervises.
"We're just going to try to clean up a little bit so we can get a car or two into the garage," Bullis says. "We're not going to move this clay very far, because we may be putting it all right back where it was on the front of the house, but we're hopeful we're not going to have quite as much water this time."
The Bullises have a walkout basement leading out to the golf course. Last week, as the predictions for the flood height kept rising, Bullis decided the seven-foot sandbag wall just behind the house might not be enough to protect his basement. So he corralled some friends with dump trucks and a backhoe, and built a clay dike nine feet tall around the back of the house, and a little shorter around the front.
That was the same day the city built the clay dike down the middle of Rose Creek Drive -- a block to the north, leaving Bullis and his neighbors at the mercy of the sandbag dike that was looking less and less adequate.
"We had a neighborhood meeting that night, and tensions were a little hot," Bullis says. "But I think everyone understood that Fargo had to do it to protect the rest of the city, everyone understood why Fargo did it."
So now that ten-foot wall of clay will occupy Rose Creek Drive for the next two weeks. And the piles of sandbags and the mounds of sand will sit at the end of the cul de sac. Ready for the next crest.
- Morning Edition, 04/06/2009, 7:40 a.m.