Sunday, March 29, 2009

Flood '09: Holding steady

Saturday was a more quiet day in Fargo. Most dikes around the city held and the river was holding steady. Our dike has been strong and we have built it to nearly 44 feet in most places. It gave all of us a sigh of temporary relief. I think most of us caught up on sleep and probably took a nice warm bath to soothe our tired old bodies!

Some reports from the National Weather Service said it had crested already at 12:15 a.m. Saturday at 40.82 feet. By early Sunday, the Red River had dropped to 40.25 feet. City officials tell us there is more water south of town that needs to flow through the Red - so we are cautiously optimistic that it will not crested to the dreaded 43 feet that was once predicted.

Our development is directly across the river from Oakport Township in Moorhead where they have had lots of problems and lost homes. We are so fortunate to have had strong neighborly support of time, manpower and equipment to get our area where it needed to be.

By yesterday, I had sent the girls to friends' homes that are away from the river. They needed a break and I think the stress that we were feeling was getting to them. They seem to be having a good time elsewhere and it has made life easier for us. School has been called off already in the Fargo area for next week too.

For right now, our main course of action is dike patrol. As a neighborhood, we have to "man" our own dikes 24 hours a day for seepage and of course, breaches. Shifts are divided into 2-hour increments - four people are needed per shift. We were told that all shifts were covered until this coming Tuesday - which is fantastic.

Kyle and I had our shift last night from 6-8 p.m. Although I was on patrol, I couldn't help but bring my camera. This is a historic event. The photo above is Kyle checking one of the sump pumps.

The sun was still shining when we went out but toward the end of our shift it was bitter cold. The routine is that you walk the 3-block route and check the bags and the sump pumps. There is seepage from the bottom that is pretty much contained with the pumps and is considered normal. We were told to look for "sabatoge" of bags from the dike (who would do that?!?!?) and leaks from the middle of the sandbag pile.

We were met by National Guardsman on a couple of occasions. They were here from South Dakota helping with the effort. We still have roads closed into our development and the Guard is still cornered at each entry. It is a comfort to know they are there if something should go wrong.

The Red Cross has been so good to us! They have been here several times, leaving all kinds of food, water and cold and warm beverages for us - even for us on dike patrol! They dropped off warm roast beef sandwiches for us yesterday (which were delicious, by the way). I talked to one of the workers and he said that the area "church ladies" donated an astounding 2,000 sandwiches in one day to them.

One of the the main pumps in our development - notice the water that is being pumped back into the river.

This is one of the main houses that we sandbagged around. It is at the end of our cul-de-sac and if this dike was breached - we would have the river pouring down the street toward us. That is Kyle checking one of three sump pumps at the owner's house.

I'm sure this archway was quite a ways from the river at one point.

A long and winding trail of sandbags protects the cul-de-sac on our street.

This was a routine sight for the last week, mounds and mounds of sand on our street, waiting to be bagged and placed behind these rows of houses. We had about 100 people making sandbags for the last three days. Saturday was the first day we didn't have to do it. This sand is for us if we have an emergency. After this ordeal, the only sand I want to see is the stuff you find in Mexico!

The flood has also disrupted the natural habitat of the deer. Instead, they have found solace in our backyard. This has been a common scene this week. We have had as many as 9 deer in our yard - eating berries that have fallen from one of our trees (that I would LOVE to remove from our landscape - but that's a different story). The problem I have is that they are eating some of my ground cover on my garden beds and I don't want them to think this is an OK feeding spot for the future. They are driving Sasha nuts! Oh well, unique circumstances, right?!?!?

Thanks again for your concern and prayers ... it is much appreciated and best of all, I think it is working! We are putting up a valiant fight ....



Lynn said...

Our prayers are with you all... It sure looks scarry,It is one thing seeing it on the news and another to see it up close. I am glad to see that the river is going down, I'm sure you are worn out, I just can't imagine... Thanks for the update.

Susie said...

It's great to see the river is going down a bit. We will pray that this continues.

I can only imagine how tired everyone must be and stressed out. What a great community that you live in and that everyone has come together so wonderfully.

Thanks for letting us know how things are going.

Beth said...

Thank you Lynn and Susie. I would like to think that the worst is over with ... only one more week of this we hope!

I bet the weather is lovely in Mississippi!

beckie said...

Beth, I can't imagine the stress you all have been under. I am amazed and in awe of your efforts and stamina. You and your community do indeed deserve special praise.

My prayers stay with you.

Roses and Lilacs said...

You and your neighbors are in my prayers. I hope when the river is back to normal levels they build you a system of permanent dikes. This is something you should never have to go thru again.

Keep us posted.

ChrisND said...

Hi Beth...we are not effected as much as you. We are about 5 blocks from a dike. I have been sandbagging all week with no regular work, but still long hours. Helping where we can. We had to shore up the neighborhood once after a CodeRed, but no major issues.

No need for gyms or diets for a while. Now we are just waiting for the high winds to pass tomorrow and should be home free -- even with the second crest after the snow melts.

Glad to know your neighborhood is the flag!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Beth,
Saw your comment over at Marnie's place and wanted to express my hopes and solidarity for you and the people of Fargo. I have a good blogger friend who lives there and I'm sure he's been out sandbagging and helping out. I have nothing but sheer admiration for the people of ND and Fargo specifically for how they are handling this crisis. We're no strangers to flooding here in Des Moines (we had our bout last June) so we know what the anxiety is like.

I just hope the predictions of that blizzard I read about earlier today miss you completely, because that is the absolute last thing you need to happen (as if I needed to tell you that!)

Best of luck to you and all the courageous and strong people of Fargo! I know you'll pull through this and hope things improve soon!