Seven years after the 1997 flood that devastated Grand Forks, North Dakota, I paid a visit to the city, and observed:
I remembered the news coverage back in ’97, but I had to see for myself: when the river crested at 54 feet flood stage is a mere 26 feet did it destroy the heart, the soul, of the city?
No way, Don José. Seven years after the fact, Grand Forks is glorious and, well, grand; I made just enough wrong turns through town to see quite a bit of the place, and it’s clean, green, and (I hope) prepared for the next Flood of the Century. And as I passed over a bridge into Minnesota, I glanced down into that still, silent water and thought, “Sneaky bastard.”
It was, of course, this bridge.
Grand Forks is threatened again, though right now the immediate danger is upstream at Fargo. Alan Sullivan reports:
The city is fortifying to 41.5 feet. The forecast crest is 40 feet. NOAA has an excellent page of water levels and forecast heights. It indicates a very prolonged crest, with the river standing at record level for days. This will enhance the risk of dike breaks and sewer failures, but it’s preferable to a higher, briefer event.
“We don’t see any fear,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said. “We just see people working very hard.”
Which is what they do in North Dakota. I pray it pays off for them.