Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Flood fighting

It's Saturday morning, but not a day of rest for me I think.

At 9 o'clock I'm going to City Hall for the morning briefing of the emergency management team, and then probably up to the Winter Show building to put in some time sandbagging.

The dikes in Valley City have been raised enough to give us a comfortable margin of safety. We'll raise them another couple of feet to the 22 foot level (which is about the level of the top of my front porch, three blocks from the river) to meet the projected 50/50 chance the National Weather Service gives us.

We've had a break for a while. The predicted precipitation this last week came in the form of snow, so it's not running into the river right away. Next rain though...

The Army Corps of Engineers is taking the opportunity to bring the level of the reservoir down, raising the river to just below the banks for a prolonged period of time so they'll have storage capacity.

Thirty-odd miles downriver, he delightful town of Fort Ransom (pop. less than 100) was saved by one inch. That's how close the flood waters came to the top of the dikes as the Corps and volunteers were building it up.

Further down river, below where the Sheyenne joins the Red River is Fargo.

Fargo, to put it bluntly, is screwed. They're predicting 44 feet in Fargo and they've already started evacuating old folks homes, hospitals and invalids. In short, everyone who isn't light on their feet first.

To show how serious they were, Fargo police arrested a CNN camera crew and some gawkers who didn't believe that "stay of the dikes" means YOU.

Our authorities asked everyone who isn' a volunteer or media not to sightsee. Since the on-site media is me and the guy from the radio station, we haven't exactly been in the way.

It's funny. I realized lately that I've lived in a country undergoing a civil war, associated with dissidents in a country with a real-live KGB - but I've never covered a flood before.

Not counting the time me and a bud put out in a canoe in the South Canadian river in flood - it wasn't actually threatening the town.

We had a wild ride for a couple of miles, clinging to the bottom of the overturned canoe.

"And how old were you when you did this?" is what my wife asks when I tell her these things.

Well, I'm old enough to know better now. Though actually the river isn't raging here, the danger would be the ice jams downstream...


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