The emails from 1997 continue.
Subject: Flood Stage 1 1/2 almost an island
Hello everyone! Hope you are safe and dry! We are ok for the moment!
Mom and Dad got out yesterday, we sent Trica and Dick and Savannah to Grand Forks this morning, they have no elec or water at Buxton.
The water is rising and the road is almost blocked, the last way out of here is almost under water. Today Gene is trying to thaw out sand bags in the garage, it is only 12 degrees here. We still need to lay bags across the driveway.
For now the the duck boat that we got from Mom and Dad is useless because of the ice out there. We have one vehicle on dry high ground.
We are all set with food etc… we have made all the preparations that we can.
Mom and Dad were coming back tonight but I called them and told them to stay in Osage, so I hope they do.
The Sheyenne isdue to crest late today or tomorrow, the Red on Friday or Saturday so we should be through the worst of this by April 17, it seems like a long way away.
I will try to keep you informed daily, if you don’t hear from us, either we are too busy or exhausted, or have been evacuated. The Fargo Forum has an online page called in forum and it has a flood page if you all are interested.
Take Care! Gene and Connie
On the garage side of the house facing the cul de sac. You can see a load of class five gravel in the driveway…they ran out of sand so used class five. It has rocks in it…it freezes really hard.
I think Gene walked out through the ice and water to get some sand bags from someone. In our planning we did not account for wet feet all day every day. I rigged up the inside of his boots with garbage bags to keep his feet dry. (Later my Mom would deliver a pair of hip waders for him and new waterproof boots for me.)
That is our house with the star. This photo was taken from a boat or high dry land just east of us.
Harvey (next door neighbor) my Dad and Far Guy is in the duck boat with the wheel barrow.
This is the last road out.
Thawing out sand for sandbags was the pits. We kept a pallet of sandbags in the garage but with the temperatures so low they froze. A frozen sandbag does you no good…they have to be unfrozen to conform to the bag or ground that they are sitting on to get a good seal and to form a good barrier from the water.
We would dump part of a bag into the wheelbarrow and then with a heat gun that was supposed to be used to remove varnish from furniture and a torch we thawed out many sandbags one by one in our garage. Once they were all thawed out we would place them before they froze again.
At one point we had no bags and no unfrozen sand.
Our plan was to keep one vehicle inside the garage incase we needed to get out quick, and we could also siphon gas out of the tank should we run out of gas for the gas motor in our pump. One vehicle was on high ground, we could get there by boat when the ice thawed. Our plan was to keep all the animal with us. We had two birds a Budgie named Charlie, a Cockatiel named Pearl and three Shelties; Moses, Captain and G’ Day Mate. Then we heard on the news that people would be rescued but pets would be left behind should the flood get to catastrophic levels. I told Far Guy I was not leaving without the animals.
Watery Wednesday: March 19 1997
I just can't imagine what it was like going through this. Very interesting reading about your experience with the flood of 1997.
An important part of your history—and so fortunate that you recorded it in so much detail! It seems you've been a photographer (and recorder) from a way back, good talents to have!
I figure it must have receded before you had to be evacuated or I think you would have made national news with the ruckus you would have raised. I look forward to hearing how it all turned out. What a disaster it was in any event.
What a terrible ordeal! Obviously you survived but it must have been really frightening to not know and have to wait day after day wondering what might happen. So glad you had relatives and friends. When I went through the ice storm here I had no help, no one checked on me but I survived....some elderly here did not but of course they never publish that. Another reason why I want to leave this area. Yes, the pets....I would feel the same way! Now, I think they do rescue them too as they realize how important they are to people....I couldn't leave mine...they're always there for me when people aren't.
I'm glad you're sharing your emails and photos. It's interesting.
Frozen sand bags...slogging around in ice water...it's hard to explain to people what's involved but you did it...with photos! It floods to some degree almost every year here since then. We had another "100 year flood" in 2009--but have had several 50 year floods and 10-year floods every other year. (How can they call them that anymore when we've had so many in the past 20 years?) Getting two states to agree on flood prevention plans (a tricky, complicated solution to come up with) has been a slow process. We are lucky McFamily and I don't live in a flood plain area, but with global warming...we might all be under water here eventually, eh?
Fascinating reading, but how scary. And the sand and bags freezing, aw sh*t!! What a slow process trying to thaw them out, and so frustrating. Yes, the pets, you would have to prise mine out of my arms, I would not leave without them. We did live on a flood plain for a few years, and several times we had water all around us, had to slosh through it to get to the house, and it was in the crawlspace. That was mostly due to being on one of the lowest spots, and the ditches backing up when we had very heavy rain. Now we are on a hill, and thankful for it.
That would have been a very scary situation. Water does what it wants to do.
How exhausting it must have been. I remember the photos on tv and in the Star Tribune. Never thought about how individuals thawed out the sandbags though.
That is scary! We are in that position now. The ground is so saturated and they are calling for more rain Thursday and friday. We are on flood watches until Saturday morning.
Thank you for sharing - very interesting. It would definitely have been a challenge to go through this.
It scares me to even read this. The work must have been exhausting. Once things were over it must have taken a while for you all to calm down and get rested. I would have so afraid. Maddie's shower was so nice. and your carved chess pieces are amazing. You are amazing!!
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