Tricky Business

MPR reminds us that “Flood forecasting is tricky business” with a Radio-on-the-TV Youtube feature. Didn’t know Minnesota Public Radio was on Youtube. Then again I’m a dial-up guy who still remembers when MTV actually played music videos.

The Grand Forks Herald reported Thursday:

A statement from the office of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty this afternoon said President Barack Obama has approved a major disaster declaration clearing the way for federal relief and recovery assistance in Polk, Marshall, Kittson, Norman, Wilkin, Traverse and Clay counties along the Red River in northwestern Minnesota.

“I’m also renewing my request that the federal government authorize assistance to individuals and households, as many families have been severely impacted by this flood,” Pawlenty said.

One would think we would have learned our lessons ten years ago, but nobody agrees what those lessons are and what to do about it. The governors of North Dakota and Minnesota are pushing to get at least one thing done:

Pawlenty and Hoeven said they are organizing a mission to Washington, D.C. of local, state and congressional leaders to press the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance the timetable for a study now underway to address broad-based flood protection in the Fargo-Moorhead are of the Red River Valley. Officials said the study, which isn’t scheduled for completion until December 2010, is moving too slowly to address the needs of the region.

“We need the Corps to do more than just study it – we need a plan and a commitment from the Corps for federal funding and project approval so that we can move forward with construction,” said Governor Hoeven. “Our budget committed $75 million in state funding for Fargo’s Southside Flood Project, which should be incorporated into the plan, and we are willing to commit more if necessary.”

“Flooding has affected Minnesotans and North Dakotans along the Red River Valley from the river’s headwaters to the Canadian border,” Governor Pawlenty said. “A comprehensive and equitable plan is needed to protect citizens in both states from future flood events. The good work already completed in East Grand Forks and Grand Forks is proof that mitigation is not only possible, but that it works.”

Hoeven said he believes the Corps has money in its budget. “There will be no better time than the present to make a solid commitment to the people of Minnesota and North Dakota to get this job done.”

There’s politics afoot as well, with the Minnesota Legislature debating if more money should be borrowed for flood protection projects. Guess I need to do my part and get back to finishing our local all hazard mitigation plans.

(Cross-posted from JCShepard.com)

Goose River flooding

I remember putting on my rubber barn boots & grabbing a shovel, heading down by the banks of the Goose River between Mayville and Portland, right there on North Dakota Highway 200 by the park.

Goose River flooding homes in Mayville, ND

 
Several homes and businesses have taken on water in Mayville as the Goose River spills out of its banks, according to the Traill County Sheriff’s Office.
Capt. Steve Hunt said the flooding began late morning and early afternoon Tuesday along Highway 200 at the bottom of a hill in Mayville.
The flooded buildings included a city shop, three businesses and four homes, he said.
“At least two of them have a foot of water on the main floor,” he said.
The city planned to shore up sandbags around its water plant, he said. 
 

Mike Nowatzki, Forum report  3/25/09 Forum newsroom
Posted by: floodblogger on 3/25/2009 at 8:59 AM |

The situation in the Red River Valley this year is a flash-back to 1997, when a late ice-storm slowed down the snowmelt saving Fargo from the Flood of the Century and dooming Grand Forks.  The Forum is reporting today:

About 3 inches of snow had fallen by 7 a.m. in the metro area, and the National Weather Service predicts 5 to 8 inches total from Fargo north to Grand Forks before the storm diminishes this evening.

I’m following flood info & river levels on Twitter, too.  Not much I can do from 200 miles away, but maybe it will put those old memories in perspective.  Be prepared out there.

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Edit: Steve Gunderson has posted a great photo album from the Goose River flooding at Mayville-Portland on his home page.  The photo below is a greenhouse we helped get going when I worked for Traill County.  The owner is a great guy, but maybe I should have worked harder with him to find a safer location.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda….

Kost Hydroponics, Mayville, ND, Flood 2009

Kost Hydroponics, Mayville, ND, Flood 2009

Preparation

The National Weather Service is predicting major flooding in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota:

Flood Risk High and Flooding Imminent for the Red River of the North Basin; Above Average Risk for Upper Midwest and from the lower Great Lakes to Illinois and part of New England

I grew up in and around Fargo, and lived in the Red River Valley during the Flood of 1997. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a city of 50,000 people completely evacuated. My community had our own crisis to deal with that year, yet we opened our homes to those who had lost theirs. The guy who stayed with me had nothing left but the clothes on his back—everything in his home, his car, everything gone.

Fargo got lucky that year when Grand Forks did not. This year that luck may have run out. However, the better part of luck is preparation, as Red River Farm Network radio team report:

Prepping for the Flood — Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is taking action to prepare for flooding in the Red River Valley. The State Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has also activated its internal Incident Command Team to help farmers protect themselves and their property from flood-related damage. Field staff are also contacting grain elevators, crop protection suppliers and food processing companies.

And the good people of the Red River Valley are busy preparing.

The Red Cross is partnering with the Salvation Army to provide meals to the many volunteers creating sandbags at “Sandbag Central” in Fargo. Pictured here is what’s known as a “Spider”.This photo is available for media distribution. Please credit Claire Sale/American Red Cross.  For more information on this disaster, please visit the Red Cross Disaster Online Newsroom

Here at jcshepard.com we’re busy preparing, too. A big move is coming up as I try to move from wordpress.com to a hosted wordpress.org account. This winter I’ve been testing out different features in preparation and HOPE all will go smoothly.

Be Prepared.