For some residents in flood-stricken area, the high waters are just part of springby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Harwood, N.D. — As the flooding Red River spreads across the flat landscape of an ancient lake bed, hundreds of rural residents find themselves surrounded by water.
The water has reached record levels north of Fargo-Moorhead. Dozens of roads are under water making travel nearly impossible. Thirty one miles of Interstate 29 north of Fargo are closed due to high water.
View a photo gallery shot from the sky above the Red River Valley.
But most rural residents are taking the floodwaters in stride.
On a high spot along a county road north of Fargo near Harwood, N.D., there's a row of cars, trucks and ATVs parked. Local residents park here and walk or ride an ATV through floodwater to get to their homes.
Dean Tvedt stood on the road visiting with a neighbor.
"Heading into town," he told his friend. "Getting some pump parts. Take 'er easy, good luck."
Tvedt has two gasoline-powered pumps in the back of his truck. He hauled them out of his home on a trailer pulled behind an ATV. Both pumps are broken.
"Had one go down on me yesterday, and I borrowed a spare, and that went down on me too," Tvedt said. "Heading in to town to see if I can find parts and put 'em back together."
Tvedt's home is surrounded by water, but, as long as he can keep pumping water out of his basement, he expects no major problems. He's taking a vacation to manage the flood. While he's well-prepared and done this before, he admits it's a still little stressful.
"You're worrying about these things," he said. "You get up in the middle of the night and check sump pumps and the like and see that it hasn't come up further around the ring dike. And it does wear on you as time goes on."
The neighbor he was talking to, Ron Lemke, farms about 3,000 acres here. Nearly all of his land is under a couple feet of water.
It's going to be a long wait to start spring planting.
"It'll be way into May before I start to even see fields again," Lemke said. "So it might not be until the first of June. Yep, Mother Nature takes over. You just hurry up and wait."
The wait could have big financial implications for Lemke. If he can't get in the fields until June, it will be too late to plant corn.
"Corn is the most profitable crop to plant right now," he said. "Planting shorter season crops, your yield potential is gone."
As Lemke heads off to town, Jim Tvedt, Dean's older brother, rides up on his ATV.
Jim Tvedt said his house is also surrounded by water but should stay dry.
"[I'm] finding a little water up there now," Jim Tvedt said. "But we pretty well know what's high and what isn't around there. I've lived there for 64 years now."
He downplays the hassles and worries of being surrounded by flood water.
"It's a pain, but keeps the riff-raff out most of the time," he said. "It's not that big a deal. When you first see it, it scares the heck out of you, when you haven't had high water in many years. You kinda get used to it, I guess."
That's the attitude of many rural residents dealing with floodwaters. A few rescues have been made, but most people are making do.
Cass County Sheriff's Detective Steve Gabrielson is staffing an emergency response unit in Harwood. A dozen airboats and National Guard trucks are on the ready to rescue residents.
But Gabrielson said all the rescue crews have been doing is waiting. Most residents were well-prepared for this year's floods.
"They know exactly what's going to happen — what house is going under first, what roads go under, which ones don't, where to park their car."
More than 60 miles of roads are closed in Cass County, so some rural residents might be boating, walking or riding an ATV through water for a couple of more weeks as they wait for floodwater to recede.
- Morning Edition, 04/12/2011, 7:20 a.m.