In case you haven't turned on the news lately, we are expecting record flood levels here in North Dakota this year along the Red River. As I write this, Fargo is scrambling to raise their earth-and-sandbag dikes in an effort to keep their record-breaking water levels out of the town. Several neighborhoods in Fargo have been evacuated as the crest makes its way upstream to us (yes, the river flows to the north). It is expected to crest here on Monday or Tuesday at around 53 feet - the walls and dikes that surround our town will protect us to 60 feet. They were built with federal funds after the devastating flood of 1997, which many long-timers are remembering all too vividly these days.
There seems to be a feeling of almost-confidence here (not smugness; North Dakotans are much too humble to be smug) as the surrounding areas scramble to protect homes and towns from the rising waters. While we could still experience some complications (ice dams, sump-pump failures, localized dike failure), we feel very grateful to be so well-protected...after all, our house is only 4 blocks from the river! Hopefully that confidence will be valid and we won't have any complications to report in the next week or two...
Today the kids and I drove downtown to get a look at the swollen Red. It's technically illegal to climb the dikes to look at the river so we parked on top of a parking garage, which gave us a great view:This is the Sorlie Bridge, which connects Grand Forks, ND with East Grand Forks, MN. It has been closed due to the high water levels; there is currently only one bridge open connecting the 2 communities. In the foreground you can see where the earthen dike meets the flood wall. The opening is where the train tracks run through and go across the river into Minnesota. During a major flood they fill in the openings.
We enjoyed almost a week of "warm" temperatures before a big snowstorm hit. Almost all of the snow had melted, which obviously contributed to the river levels. Now we're back to temps in the teens and feet of snow piled up around town. Come ON already, Spring!
If you look really closely, you can see a tan-colored tower peeking out from the water over near the bridge. That is a monument built along the greenway showing the water levels from previous floods....the 1997 flood crested at 54 feet.
Cars are parked along the town side of the dike. On the other side is a greenway with paved trails and grass. It will be a big mess to clean up once the water recedes.