The emails continue:
Genes report- Finishing up building sand bags to a level of 894 above sea level, told by the neighbors on this island to build to at least 896. No way to get sand we are #$%#*#.
Connie's report: I took the dogs and birds out this afternoon, Mom and Dad met us off the island, yes we are surrounded by water. I hopped a ride back in on a big truck with a generator, propane heater and nipko heater. I made it back in by the skin of my teeth, I think Gene was trying to get me stranded on the other side!
The dogs are on their way to a Vet in Park Rapids til this is over. (My Mother ended up keeping the birds and the three dogs.)
The water really came up overnight, we switched the vehicles early this morning, decided not to leave one in, we can hopefully get to the Bronco on high ground about 3/4 mile from here. (Gene’s pickup was sent home with my parents loaded with dogs and birds.)
The basement has been emptied except for the washer, it is really heavy and we will wait for a neighbor to help.
The water is on the bags, and we will have to start a dike watch later tonite. They are not giving much hope, some say it is a 500 year flood, we are on the 100 year plain, I heard from an old timer today that in 1897 the water went from here to Hawley. (30 plus miles away)
Gene is doing pretty good, he is calmer today and is just expecting the worst.
I have to pack an evacuation bag, I put my text books in the freezer, we have most everything else pretty ship shape.
Gene is thawing out sand bags in the garage. We hope the water goes over I-29 soon, it is our overflow!!
Love Gene and Connie
Water in fields everywhere. I think my Mom took this photo.
Travel by boat
The view from our deck. Good thing we rescued our lawn mower from the garden shed.
Those were tough days. We are one optimist and one pessimist. I kept saying maybe the water will go down, Far Guy said it will wipe us out. We had a really big argument about whether I would stay or go. (Many wives went to other places not flooding and some just went to motels in Fargo.) I wanted to stay, being away and wondering all the time what was happening would have driven me nuts. Far Guy wanted me to take the dogs and birds and go to my parents where we would all be safe.
It was a very difficult decision for me to make to send the dogs out. I knew it was probably the only way I could make sure they were okay. I would get evacuated if it came to that…but the dogs would be left behind…and I couldn’t do that to them. We had just a small area off the front step with any amount of grass, their fenced in area was a waterway.
We listened almost continually to KFGO on the radio, they gave flood stages and weather reports, and took information from callers.
Harvey who lived next door to us put up a water filled dike…picture a heavy plastic tube filled with water.
In one corner of the addition lived a neighbor by the name of Ted, he owned a gas station in North Fargo. He was our source of gasoline. The first time I went out with the gas cans I wore plastic bags in my boots to stay dry, I had to break the ice as I walked on the back road. Ted never charged for gas, he said if you need it just take it night or day. Much later after the flood we paid for the gas we got from Ted and from then on got all our gas from his gas station.
Our neighbors were helpful, Harvey was a great source of information. We would wade over to the neighbors or holler back and forth.
Far Guy says “Why are you dredging all this up now?”
Well for one thing it is history, for another perhaps once and for all I can put it behind me. It might be Post Traumatic Stress…hurricanes, tornadoes, fires are all fast disasters….the Flood of 1997 seemed to drag on forever.
Watery Wednesday : April 8 1997
Watery Wednesday: April 6 1997
Water Wednesday: March 19 1997
And because we are all sitting on the edges of our seats reading about it!
My first thought : "Where is this happening? What have I missed in the news?"
So glad this is a past memory, but wow! what a story!
I think it is an interesting perspective. I recall reading about it in the news but had never heard a first hand account.
I'm glad you are chronicling all this history, much of which I only knew about peripherally, but hearing it through your voice it feels like I was there! Thank you for doing it, Connie. :-)
You know how to write down the details that bring the situation to life. It sounds like a very scary time.
This is history and personal history! All of this is something to be handed down blogger-style to your family, too. Imagine great-great grandkids reading all about this with pictures! Priceless. :)
Yes, your story is history and needs to be recorded and shared. Thanks for sharing it with your readers.
I am from Fargo and have lived here all of my life. I am so enjoying your account of the 1997 flood. Our daughters were in kindergarten and third grade. Because of the blizzards, school was closed so many times. Our third grader missed 18 days of school and our morning kindergartner missed 24 days of school because of school closings. Days were made up by increasing the school day and adding a few extra days at the end of the school year. We helped a lot of friends and strangers with sand bagging, etc. Most won the fight but some lost their homes to the water and moved away. So many people came to the Fargo area to help out. We had family from Mpls asking if we needed help. Another family from 30 miles out called to let us know we could stay with them if needed. The thing I really remember most is how friends and strangers came together to do what needed to be done, no matter how tired out everyone was. We were provided with so many wonderful home made meals as we sand bagged.
Just wow!! I would have been like you, would have insisted on staying. Being away, wondering, would have been so much worse. Good call on getting the animals out though, one less thing to worry about.
You may have a personal reason for telling about the flood. For me it is a fascinating story of bravery and hard work.
I'll never forget this event in Minnesota. I hope you never have to experience anything like it again. If it truly was a 500 year flood as they say, I'd say you are safe! My kiddos and I helped friends with sandbagging. I never knew til then how tiring and heaving sandbagging was.
97 was a flood year here too. So much devastation everywhere. Sometimes writing things down helps us overcome.
What a mess that must have been! It was flooding here, too, but not as bad as that. Doesn't seem like it was 20 years ago, does it? I guess you can remember so many more details when it's a crisis scenario--almost like reliving it.
This reads like a good novel! Although I'm sure it wasn't good for you! I couldn't believe the garden shed and I too would have sent the pets. I hope it all turns out okay as I am on the edge of my seat! You need to publish this!
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