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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flashbacks, Circa 1997....

When I moved back to Minnesota in December of 2001 I was so excited to be able to connect again with my friends from the University of North Dakota. One of those people was my friend Amy. I've talked about Amy a lot on this blog. Amy and I have been through a lot together.

Including the Grand Forks flood of 1997.

I wasn't there in person, but I was there--on the phone--when Amy needed someone to vent with, cry with, share her anger and to tell her that it will get better and it will be OK. Amy's parents had major flood damage to their home. Amy's room was in the basement--so you can imagine that many of her childhood things were lost.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you have probably heard that Fargo, North Dakota is having a bit of a water problem. The Red River is rising, and the city is in full-blown emergency mode. They are sandbagging around the clock to do all that they can to save the city, homes, businesses, the university (which shall remain nameless...). The latest predictions are that the Red River will crest on Saturday. They are saying it will be the highest it has been in a century.

While I was with Amy in spirit in 1997, I have been there when it comes to preparing for a flood. In 1996, my last year in Grand Forks, the Red River was going to flood that spring. In the spring of 1996, the option to get out of class free to go help sandbag was granted and I was all over it. Anything to get out of my Norwegian class.

I, like many Fargo residents over the last week, have sat on the cold, cement floor of a warehouse and tied off sandbags as they were made. As soon as they were tied, they were snatched out of my hands and onto a pallet or truck. That pallet or that truck were then moved to make room for more. The large Sand Octopus--a machine that helps to fill the sand bags--worked just as hard as the people who were shoveling sand into bags outside of that warehouse. It was a 24 hour operation.

But 1997 was the year that changed everything in Grand Forks. That winter they had 98.6 inches of snow.


We may like our snow, but that is the perfect ingredient for a flood if anyone has ever seen it. This year was no different. Lots of rain in the fall, paired with lots of snow this winter, as well as rain and more snow over these last two weeks, have made for quite the mess in Fargo.

When the levees broke in mid April 1997, not only was Grand Forks flooded, it was literally under water. We've all seen flood photos before, but these that I found online at the US Geological Survey are by far, the best.

Whitey's Bar and Restaurant.
Yes. The water is at the TOP of the doors.

After the levees broke and the water receeded
this is what was left of the sandbag dike.

Grand Forks. My home from 1990-1996.
The two bridges in the photo seperate East GF and
Grand Forks. East GF is in MN. GF is in ND.

You know it's bad when the water that flows
FAR BELOW the bridge is now flowing over the bridge.
For those of you who don't live close by, or have never been a part of a flood effort, you don't think much of it when you see it on TV. You think "...oh, wow. I feel bad for them!", but as soon as the newcast switches to a new story, the flood is out of your mind.

Since the flood of 1997 I have made my way back to UND and Grand Forks. It is still a city I love and a city I wouldn’t mind living in for the rest of my life. My friend Mike--who was also at UND during the 1997 flood--said this morning, "I'm glad I'm not there, but also wish I was to be able to help." The people of Fargo love their city and they are in a fight that they didn't think they would ever have to face.

These people are tired.
They're cold.
They're angry.
They're scared.

As you thank your lucky stars that you're not in Fargo, I hope that you remember them in your prayers each night.

They're going to need it.


Two Blessings From Above said...

We will include them in our prayers. My one son dreams of attending UND, he loves everything about it. We took him up last March to see the Fighting Sioux play hockey. It was amazing. The pictures you posted are great and really show what can happen. We will be thinking and praying for these people and their homes.

Amy in Ohio said...

In my prayers for sure.

So sad to see familiar sites (Whitey's!) under such destruction.

The Daily Dean Chronicals said...

My thoughts and prayer go out to all people in the midst of the Red river flooding! I hate to see all of these people suffering! I have a TV reporter friend who is up in Fargo reporting for the local station here in the TC's. He said it is BAD! Again I pray that they will all make it! Another long road ahead!

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Ohman... I used to go through Fargo on my way to my Dad's in Minot. That they're going through this again... only worse...just breaks my heart. And people seem to have this attitude of "oh, it's just North Dakota"... and not realizing the peril of the flooding in combination with the temperatures...

They are in my prayers.