Saturday, March 28, 2009

Okay, I think I can write about this now

I intended to sit down and write an entry yesterday, but I just couldn't. This has been so emotionally draining and so stressful you just can't imagine. Some of you will understand where I'm coming from, but many of you won't. Having gone through this twice before (1975 and 1997) I have found that I can handle the situation during the event, but following have a tendency to fall apart. I still have a very difficult time to watch the video and look at the pictures that were taken back in 1997 and not break down. Unless you've been through it you have no idea what the stress level can be.

It's over for Ole and me - the water is down - not completely back in the banks by a long shot, but a livable situation. We're safe and we skated by - again. We lost our well - it was submerged and we'll have to have it sanitized before we can drink from it. Minor detail. We came close to losing our sewer system, but we didn't. Minor detail. Our driveway is washed out and will need repair. Minor detail. Our outbuildings got water in them - the storage building was under three feet and Ole's shop had a foot in it. Everything was lifted up so no damage other than a layer of stinky, slimy river silt over everything. Minor detail. Lovely Daughter's mobile home had water way up on the skirting but didn't get water on the main level. Her propane tank rolled over but didn't breakaway or start on fire. Ole had the foresight to tie all three propane tanks down that are on the property. Lovely Daughter and Hubby bought a house in Fargo and moved in there about a month ago. So her mobile home is empty at this point, but no damage from the flood.

The BIG detail is that our house stayed dry and we didn't even have any seepage. Granted, our sump pump has been running heavy duty, but it's still running, and that's important. Ole is smart and has three backup pumps, so if one goes out he can quickly connect another.

So for all of you who have been concerned and are wondering where we're at in all of this - we're safe and dry.

Many of you are hearing all kinds of things and seeing pictures of the Red River of the North on the national news. I need to explain one thing. Ole and I live along the banks of the Buffalo River, which is a tributary of the Red River. So what's happening on the Red isn't happening here at this immediate moment. We had and usually have our issues about a week before the Red River develops its fury. But don't let that make you think that the water wasn't an issue in our rural area because it definitely was. Our property is approximately 7 miles as the crow flies from the Red River, and in years past (1997 and 1975) has been known to come across country to within a mile of our house.

Our rural area is going to have its problems when this is all over. We have a lot of roads and bridges that have washed out, let alone all the personal property that was lost in the rural areas. There were a number of homes inundated, along with a small town downstream from here (Georgetown) that is located where the Buffalo River joins the Red River. Georgetown was diked completely around the town to a level that should have kept the water out, but the dike didn't hold and the entire town went under yesterday. Helicopters had to come in and pick people off their roofs because the highway was washed out and the water was too deep so rescue vehicles couldn't get there overland.

The cities of Fargo and Moorhead are fighting for their lives. There have been numerous areas of the two cities that have been evacuated because of weakened dikes; to this point there have been 8 breaches, all of which have been able to be repaired - this time. The officials feel the river may be cresting at this point, but they expect the river will stay at this level for from 5 to 7 days. That's a long time to be holding all that water back. The highest crest prior to this one was 39.5 feet. The Red at this point is just shy of 42 feet, which breaks all records. And at this point we have another storm moving in by Monday which will possibly bring blizzard conditions.

One of the critical points is an area called Oakport. The entire development was diked and people had put up personal sandbag dikes in addition to the large earthen dike. They lost the fight and the development went under on Thursday. Someone's propane tank rolled over and exploded causing the house to start on fire. Of course, the fire department couldn't get there so the house burned. It was one of the few homes that hadn't been inundated.

All nursing homes have been evacuated, along with all three hospitals, many of them moving their patients to Bismarck, St. Cloud or Alexandria. Last night the sheriff's office and the jails were evacuated and the courthouse moved everything out of the basement. And as I said previously there are many neighborhoods that have been evacuated in both cities. There is a travel ban in the two cities - no travel unless you are associated with the flood fight in some way. Both mayors have asked all businesses to be closed unless they are selling things related to the flood fight. Interstate 29 is closed going both north and south and there are plans to close I-94 going east and west should it become necessary. And then there are the ice jams to deal with. Can you imagine trying to deal with all of this in temperatures in the single digits with snow on the ground?

I've pulled a couple of pictures from our local newpaper to give you an idea of what things look like.:

This is looking north over the Red toward downtown Fargo.

This is the Woodlawn Park area. There's a number of homes with water up to the roofline.

Just a sample of a dike in someone's back yard. And it wasn't high enough so they had to put sandbags on top of it. Note the hoses and the pumps in the picture. People are having a terrible time pumping out the seepage because of the cold temperatures. Everything freezes up. And if you've ever handled a frozen sandbag, you know they don't work very well. They're just like bricks.

Here's a shot of the house fire at Oakport.

Hope this gives you an idea of the mayhem - it's awful. I just hope the Fargo and Moorhead can hold their own and not lose the battle.
Love Lena


Susan said...

So glad to hear from you. Have been waiting for word, but I knew your life must be chaotic at this time. I do hope the worst is over and that that darn blizzard just fizzles out. Take care. Prayers coming your way.

thekitchenlogic said...

I'm glad you guys are okay but this all just makes me so sad. What a mess.

I hate to be selfish but I sure hope my HoDo doesn't suffer! I love that fancy little boutique hotel in downtown Fargo!

Marge said...

Good to hear from you and find out that you are safe and hopefully through the worst of it. The news today that the Red has maybe crested is good news, but we know from working the flood of 1975, that it's a long, long, way from being over. Do take time to rest and take care of yourself.

Sending thoughts and hugs.

Paula said...

I can't imagine being in your shoes or the shoes of those less fortunate. Here you have all that clean up to do and I'm sitting here bitching that I have to clean my kitchen and we have 3 inches of snow outside. Take care and good luck. Glad to hear your home survived.

MoodyGemini said...

**leaving warm hugs**

Meggie said...

I very much understand how hard it is to write about something this overwhelming. When we went through our ice storm, which was horrible - no power for weeks, which meant not only did we have no electricity, but wells couldn't pump water into homes. The army came, handed out pallets of drinking water, provided portable laundries, showers and bathrooms in Quonset hut tents. That ice storm was very overwhelming. And overwhelming is overwhelming, no matter what the tragedy. If I lived closer (and didn't have to work for a living) I'd have gone to the great northernlands to fill sandbags too. My heart is filled with heartache for you guys, but happiness that is wasn't worse.

Jean said...

Holy cow, girlfriend! And another major storm on the way!! Stay warm and safe and dry! Mother Nature can surely be a bitch when she's feeling hormonal, can't she????

Calthea said...

Hey Lena,

I am glad to hear you and Ole are safe and dry. I took a drive on Saturday to some spots in Moorhead and couldn't believe my eyes. I do remember the flood of 1997 and this one is so much worse. Take care and thanks for the pictures.