Still Fighting

Mar 29, 2009  |  Michael Wurzer

The national news has been prolific regarding our flood fighting here in the Red River Valley.  We also have been receiving all kinds of well wishes from friends and customers over the last week, and we’re very thankful for that.  I should have written earlier to let all of our customers know that we have all of your data backed up multiple ways, and have worked hard to protect the flexmls Web systems.

I also would have written something sooner to let everyone know how we’re doing personally, had I only known what to say.  I suspected before but know now that floods are uncertain beasts, and predictions are folly.  All you can do is fight with everything you have, and then double your efforts.  We’ve had people out for over a week waging war against the water, and I’m happy to say that it looks like we’re winning.  At the same time, we have a storm coming in Monday and Tuesday that could reverse those positive trends.  The biggest risk is the wind that’s potentially coming with the storm.  The snow (hopefully not rain) will make it more inconvenient to manage the dikes and levees but shouldn’t increase the river level too much.

Regardless of what comes, we’re prepared and prepared to continue fighting. To give you an idea of what we’ve been facing, below are a few pictures from my experience with the flood.  Many in our community have not been as fortunate as we have, and risk remains.  Along the lines of what I’ve said above, I’m somewhat reluctant to even put forth anything about this event as it is not over yet.  Also, I know my story is not representative of the community as a whole.  One of the things that’s bugged me about the media coverage is that it cannot capture everyone’s story and the media likes to highlight the dramatic.

The most amazing thing about this event for me is how so many individuals can come together to produce such a huge effort.  Each contribution in itself is not dramatic but, together, it’s amazing.  I’m thankful for each and every person who has come together to help us.  (Importantly, we need to come together even more strongly in the months to come to leverage our energy for a permanent solution to the flooding risk posed by the Red River and its tributaries.)

This first picture is a map of my neighborhood near the Rose Creek coulee on the Rose Creek golf course.  When the Red River (you can see it on the right) floods, it backs up into the Rose Creek coulee (just below the yellow highlighted area) and causes flood risks to our neighborhood and a large area on the south side of Fargo because the Rose Creek coulee extends west through what is now known widely as drain 27.

Back to the Rose Creek neighborhood, the area highlighted in yellow is of the homes most at risk on the “wet” side of the secondary dike (I’ll explain further below).  My house is in the group of homes just to the north of the highlighted area, protected by the emergency dike erected by the city.

The picture below is of the sandbag dike erected by hundreds if not thousands of volunteers.  This dike is holding back the water that flooded into the Rose Creek coulee from the Red River.  The dike is about a half mile in length and is one small part of the over 50 miles of diking I understand has been erected all over the Red River Valley.

This next picture is of work being done to construct an emergency dike down Rose Creek Drive, which separates the homes highlighted in yellow from where I live.  The city erected this dike in fear of the sand bag dike failing and flooding the Discovery School just to the north as well as many more homes.

This next picture is of a completed section of the emergency dike running down Rose Creek Drive, the street that takes us to our house.  Again, we’re on the “dry” side of this dike and all the homes in yellow in the map above are on the “wet” side, sealed in between this emergency dike and the sand bag dike.  To get out, they have to climb over the emergency dike (neighbors have built stairways in a few places to help people get over).  If the sand bags fail, the homes on the wet side are flooded and the water will be held in the area by the emergency earthen dike.  Essentially, these homeowners are trapped in between the dikes.  One of our employees, Bill Brooks, lives in this “wet” zone.  Fortunately, the sand bags are holding strong and we’re gaining confidence that these homes will not get wet.

All of the work necessary to construct these dikes have turned our neighborhoods into chaotic worlds, where stress levels are rebuffed only by the care seen in the eyes of all of our neighbors.  We’ve worked together, as well as with many caring strangers, to care for our homes and each other and we’re prevailing.  It may not be over yet but we’re standing here, still fighting.

12 Responses to “Still Fighting”

  1. Craig Mische says:

    North Dakotans, Minnesotans and those that have traveled from other states to help are providing an example our country needs after the AIG’s, Maddoffs, etc.

  2. Candy Lynn says:

    Thanks for the update! We’re all sending you positive energy!

  3. […] Dakota where they are fighting hard against the floodwaters of the Red River. The post can be found here and provides a local view of the reality that is facing many in Fargo at this […]

  4. Austin Drew says:

    Thanks for the inside look. Hang in there.

  5. I was speaking to Paul the other day and he told me a lot about the flood. We live near the Delaware River in PA and went through three 100 year floods in 21 months. I looked at the USGS flood gages for your area since we check then here during times like this and I was struck by how flat the curves are for you. Here the graphs look like a hairpin, the level goes up fast to crest, then drops quickly. It looks like it takes forever for the water to recede in your area because it’s so flat. So even though we have been in a similar situation, it’s still hard to imagine unless you are there.

    Best of luck.

    Malcolm Waring

  6. Sue Poling says:

    Thanks for the update Michael. We’re all thinking about and praying for all of you.

  7. Best wishes to all of you. You’llnot soon forget this event!
    I was part of the contingent of college students who helped save Mankato MN from a flood in 1965 and I still can recall the nights of sandbagging and how the community came together. It is a life-changing event.
    Also, the city of Rochester MN flooded in 1978 and later brought in the Corp of Engineers to create that permanent solution you spoke of. With the Red River Valey being so flat, this will be daunting, but all things are possible.

    We’re all sending our thoughts and prayers your way. Let us know if there are any specific things we can do for you.

  8. […] provider in Fargo, North Dakota, reports on the flooding in the area last week in his entry titled Still Fighting. Our prayers, well wishes and thoughts go out to everyone […]

  9. Steve Schlangen says:

    The weather service said there is a 75 percent chance the Red River could crest at 41 feet between April 15-22, a mark that would top the epic 40.82-foot crest last Saturday.

    The first crest this spring broke the record of 40.1 feet in 1897.

    The weather service also said there is a 25 percent the Red could crest at 42.8 feet, two feet above what Fargo-Moorhead fought off last week.

    Strong thunderstorms could play a role in the river’s rise again.

  10. Candy Lynn says:

    Boy – you guys must feel like this will never end!
    Thinking positive thoughts for all my FLEX friends!

  11. I’m not concerned. We’ve already prepared the city for a 42 foot crest. Regarding the 25%, the inverse is there’s a 75% chance it won’t reach 42.8 ft and the dikes are already at 43 ft for the most part. I just watched Mayor Walaker’s press conference and his message was clear: Don’t worry, we’re ready.

  12. Troy Feeken says:

    For those of you who haven’t seen this, you can get a pretty good grasp on what the city of Fargo alone has done to protect ourselves. The city of Moorhead on the MN side has made an enormous number of sand bags as well.

    Last heard, the city of Fargo has an additional 350,000 sand bags in the waiting along with about 3 dozen 2,000 lbs sand bags to be dropped by National Guard helicopter like what was done in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina.