Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flood Observations

The situation is precarious here in Fargo, North Dakota. After a particularly snow-laden winter, we are possibly about to experience the effects of a "100 year" flood. The members of the community are well-aware of the consequences of such an event; in 1997, Grand Forks, our neighbor to the North, experienced an inundation resulting in evacuation, scattering of families (and school students) and over $3billion worth of damage. After a few days of increasing predictions, the Red River of the North here in Fargo is expected to crest between 39 and 41 ft. (Cf. record of 39.1 in 1897) on Saturday @ 1pm and stay there a few days. However, this prediction could be shaky considering the unprecedented water levels coming from the Wild Rice (a source tributary). The thousand of volunteers are expected to have filled nearly 2 million sandbags for temporary levees by tomorrow. Unfortunately, many rural residents have already lost their homes, including in small-town neighboring Oxbow. I've spent many hours working with people in the community and the solidarity I've witnessed is startling. Truly, the Salt of the Earth dwells here in Fargo. Pray for us if you're from afar and if you're from "anear," do whacha can.

UPDATE (Mar 25th): Fr. Z. in Rome offers the "Blessing of a Community against Floods" for us here in North Dakota.

UPDATE (Mar 27th): Sooo...the new crest predictions are as follows: the Red may crest between 41 and 43ft. by Saturday evening and linger until Thursday before letting up. Meritcare Hospital has evacuated all non-emergency patients (critical or otherwise) to neighboring hospitals. Portions of Moorhead south of the Interstate have been evacuated by mandate as well as Riverview Estates and Lindenwood neighborhoods in Fargo. My parents' home is smack-dab in the Fargo "Red Zone," i.e., the place to which other residents will seek refuge should 'the worst' occur. Thus, we have a house full of guests, family, friends and pets. Woohoo.

Gov. Hoeven has activated some 1400 Guardsmen in order to raise levees to 44 ft.

Fargo Mayor Walaker's phrases of the day?: 'We're entering un-chartered territory' and 'The only thing we haven't had yet is a tornado.' Rough quotes of course.

Self-Deprecating Anecdote of the Day?: My brother and his fiancee were sandbaggin' on the other end of the line as me when they heard: Who's that bossy guy at the end of the line? My brother's fiancee's response: that's my future brother-in-law. : )