The flood: Recap

Well, the crest came and went. But two caveats: the water isn’t going anywhere, and the rural parts of the county are getting hammered right now.

By Sunday, the water will only go down about two feet. Several roads will remain closed for the next three+ weeks, and then the city crews will need to clear them of dirt and debris.

Both states are facing severe flooding on county roads — even Interstate 29 is closed north of Fargo for 31 miles because it is at least 8″ underwater. That is crazy. And since tributaries of the Red River (everything from ditches to drains to smaller rivers) cannot empty into the Red, they are producing overland flooding. Since the terrain is flat, the water covers more area faster. There was a terrible picture in the paper today of an elderly couple (late 60s) who parked their cars two miles away after protecting their home. They take a FISHING BOAT 2 miles across land to get to their cars. It’s ridiculous.

The first warnings of a major flood came on December 22 last year, due to the high autumn rainfall followed by an immediate freeze. As a result, the area has had a ton of warning and even more time to pull together their plans. (In 2009 it was a mid-February blizzard that did everyone in, and there wasn’t enough time.) So really, the flood here wasn’t that big of a deal. In fact on Saturday, right before the crest, I was walking around the river area, and was so every other person in the city. Whole families were out, with dogs in tow, walking over bridges and along the water, strolling along and taking in the crest. At the Moorhead Mall parking lot, folks parks on the top deck and took pictures of the landscape. It was pretty neat, seeing the community out as if for a 4th of July parade!

We haven’t had a full-force FEMA/presidential declaration yet — so far just a 75% one, essentially — but the FEMA area director did a helicopter tour today to see just how bad the surrounding county is. It’s a lot easier for the federal government to get involved when there’s a major urban catastrophe (see: Grand Forks, 1997) but they need to understand that this is just as terrible. Like those poor people in their fishing boat.

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