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


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

Be Prepared.

FEMA Encourages North Dakotans to Buy Flood Insurance Now

I lived in North Dakota during the Great Red River Flood of 1997.  You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen an entire city of 50,000 people evacuated.  Families with nothing left but the clothes on their backs.

Even if you’re outside the lines on FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), use your own best judgement.  The engineers who delineate the flooplains work hard to get it right, but they’re only human and have imperfect information at hand. 

Go out and talk to the neighbor that’s lived on your block the longest—if they’ve seen the water there before, it’s probably coming back again.  When you’re not looking.  We do our best to mitigate the effects of disasters, but it’s up to you as an individual to be prepared.

Daily Yonder on Farm Broadband

Daily Yonder

Daily Yonder

Still gleaning data from the Census of Agriculture specific to Southwest Minnesota.  In the meantime, Blandin on Broadbandrefered to analysis and mapping done by Daily Yonder on the data for rural broadband use.  The initial USDA PR presented data as % of %, which is as annoying as it is bad statistics.  The picture will become more clear as more eyes scan the data.

Daily Yonder gives us a snapshot of broadband usage reported by farmers across the non-metro United States.  DY references a Pew survey that matches Census of Ag results for rural internet use.  I’m sceptical of some of the methodology for Census of Agriculture, so it’s nice to see the numbers line up with other sources.

There are patterns in the Census data. The most urban states have the most farms with broadband connection. Also, states with large farms also have a high percentage of operations with high speed connections. Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas are all well above the national average of broadband connection.

This paragraph immediately caught my critical eye.  If the most urban states are most wired, why are Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, etc above average?  DY goes on to note a dicotomy—broadband usage is also highest in counties with larger farms, which they assume will have greater incomes to afford broadband.

Let’s look at Colorado.  The top counties for farms with broadband are mountain resort counties:  Pitkin, Eagle, Mineral counties.  They do tend to skew the “real ag” statistics a bit.  So be it, Aspen doesn’t count.  Next on the list comes Phillips County, Colorado, at 66% broadband usage.  You’re not going to find many ski bums in Holyoke

No. 31 on the rural broadband list is Traill County, North Dakota.  Ah ha!  Of course the progressive farmers of the Red River Valley would be above average at 56% broadband usage.  Now, 15 years ago when I worked for the Traill County Economic Development Commission in Mayville, North Dakota, we were working with community leaders to provide basic local, toll-free dial-up connections.  The result was a couple aggressive local cooperatives providing service around Mayville and the county seat at Hillsboro who upset the incumbent telcos.  Kinda feel like a proud papa to see our hard work pay out.  Well, maybe a distant uncle since most of the heavy lifting came about after I moved on.

In Traill County, the average farm size is 1,182 acres, and there were 120 farms with reported annual sales of $500,000 or more.  Yet Traill County also had local ISPs willing to go the extra mile to provide service.  It’s alot easier to do business with real people rather than a cold distant voice of Ma Bell.  I expect as in most things we’re looking for that partnership of supply and demand.

Census of Agriculture 2007

The 2007 Census of Agriculturewas released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS).  While I was at Kiwanis for lunch.  So much for this afternoon’s productivity! 

“The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years.” USDA press release here

The Grand Forks Herald (Forum Communications) summarizes:

In North Dakota, one of 39 states in which the numbers of farms rose in the five-year period, the federal census found 31,970 farms in 2007, up from 30,619 in 2002. Average size decreased, from 1,283 acres to 1,241. Farm numbers increased just slightly in Minnesota, which recorded 80,992 farms in 2007 to 80,839 in 2002. Farm size on Minnesota fell from 340 acres to 332 acres.

Edit 2:45 CST: Star Tribune finds the lemons in the lemonade:

“We’re seeing growth in the two ends of the scale — farms with fewer than 180 acres, and farms with 1,000 acres or more,” said Doug Hartwig, [Minnesota] state agricultural statistician.

Tune in for more in-depth analysis and play-by-play on your favorite rural development channel:

Durum Delivers

U.S. Durum Growers Assoc. held a You Tube Pasta Contest last October to celebrate and promote National Pasta Month.  Winners were just announced, including 1st place to Sara Neubauer, Bottineau, ND, for “Durum Delivers” filmed at the Air Force Academy:

Durum wheat flour is used to make pasta and bread.  North Dakota has about 72% of all U.S. acres in durum production.  According to North Dakota State University statistics, most of that is grown in the northwestern part of the state.  (I could do the math, but I do work in Minnesota now, and we only have a very few acres in wheat overall.)  Montana and Arizona were #2 & #3 in durum production as of 2002.

New 2007 Census of Agriculture stats are due out next week.

(Tip of the hat to Red River Farm Network radio news. )