28 MAR 2009
I had mentioned to Ryen the Red River of the North begins at the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and the Otter Tail river in Southern ND/MN. The beginning of what is to become the Red, starts at Lake Traverse east of Sissiton, SD. It is hoped they can hold the water in Lake Traverse as well as at Bull Run dam on the Sheyenne River, which runs into the Red in West Fargo. No water has been released.
There will be 1,850 National Guard up and down the Red River Valley today, monitoring dikes, running pumps, and in Fargo, walking 48 some miles just around Fargo. Thirteen hundred sandbags which hold one ton of sand each are on stand bye to be dropped by helicopter incase of a breech. Mayor Walaker calls them big diapers. Along with big diapers, explosive experts are on stand by to break up ice, as needed. We are an innovative society.
Without taking a breath, Walaker said his sister called from Connecticut and wanted to know where their mother, who is in a nursing home or assisted living, and has been evacuated to. Although it is not funny, it is because Walaker went on to say, "Even the mayor does have special privileges."
It is important for all of you reading this to understand that Fargo city limits is what Fargo is protecting. As painful as that is to many of you, they did reach out in 1997 and the system in place for the city of Fargo would have been compromised if the dike had broken. The city of Fargo has not lost a house. Their water and sewer plants are functioning well as is the electricity, no grids have been shut down. As mentioned before, the city fathers of Fargo are NOT telling people to turn off their electricity if they leave and it won't be turned off unless the owner requests it, think about sump pumps and what they do to protect houses.
Behind closed doors, as much as two and a half months ago, the meetings began on planning for what was thought, was a repeat of the 1997 flood. Tom reminds me that someone announced the governor had to get off his ass and get things started. The goal is to get INDIVIDUAL assistance to rebuild from FEMA not a blanket plan. It is in the works but not signed.
Fargo remains in the eyes of the nation. The direction of leadership and the volunteer spirit is fundamental to this group of people living near the Red. We all know their will be high and low moments in our spirits and concerns in the roller coaster fight with the river. When sand bagging operations ceased at the Fargodome at 6 last night, people didn't want to stop.
Some may be wondering why Fargo doesn't have a dike all around the city. Before being too critical, consider that in 1997, flooding was problematic at 31 feet; this year of 2009 it is an issue at 38 feet. Something has been done but not enough, who would have thought?
The bullish rumor of the day is the Mayor and the governor have ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire city. This is NOT so. Several hundred people have been dispersed from the fairgrounds which include adult facilities like group homes. Videos of evacuation sites on last nights news showed only a handful of people in the building.
We know the focus is on Fargo; we are getting the good and the bad press. We know we are in High Alert. We know that when the water crests, it is not time to say, "Let's go shopping!" We are on alert until the water falls below the sand bags and then, we can shop, and get trash pick up and snow removal. But we aren't there yet and don't expect to be for several days.
Yet in all of this, we do see a message of hope and we do see the message of help. We, as a city are determined. The guard will walk this 48 or so miles of dikes, the police and fire department will monitor, as well. And every citizen is responsible to watch and wait, hopefully like a waitress. And if the river wins, then, we will go to plan two because that is who we are.
Mahoney may have said it best, "Think of Fargo as ICU. We watch 24/7, we limit visitors."
May you be in wellness.