Flooding Memories

What a week! We had all that running water on Monday, then it snowed..not a lot..but we are returned to a wintry frozen like state again. Spring seems like it will never come. Summer seems like some distant dream.

The flood preparations continue in the Red River Valley. My baby brother and two nephews are now over there working on the dikes. They are all heavy equipment operators. When the flood predictions came out, my first thought was..I just have a few cousins and friends that live in the area..but no immediate family to fret over. Now it is personal.

Unless you have lived through a flood..you cannot even begin to imagine the power of the water, it holds you hostage. It scares you, it occupies your every thought until you have no other thoughts except water, water levels and sandbags.

During the flood of 1997, there was just the two of us, until my Father came to help. We slept in shifts. We patrolled the perimeter. Out the patio door onto the deck where the gas powered pump was sucking water out, past the sump pump discharge that was lobbed over the dike, around the corner past the tulips, to the bucket with holes sunk into the ground to run the sump pump that Far Guy installed inside of it, around the corner to the front, you could breathe a sigh of relief because the water was lower there, into the garage and down the stairs to make sure there were no leaks in the basement anywhere. Then back up to the Family Room to get ready for the next round, a few minutes to warm up before you patrolled again, if you sit down and get too warm you might fall asleep. Every forty five minutes the gas pump needed gas, at night whoever was sleeping would be awakened if you were late with the fill and the motor died from lack of fuel. The sound of that gas powered pump was security.

About day 20 or so. Far Guy insisted that I leave. My Father would man the dikes while we boated to the vehicle, and went out to dinner with my Mother. I was away from the water..I had good sea legs..I was so used to seeing moving water in all directions that seeing no movement and no water on the dry land outside of the restaurant made me nauseous. Everyone in the city seemed so normal, traffic was flowing, the sun was shining, there was no water to watch..how could they all laugh and be normal..when I was going to return to a watery world just a few miles away. Didn’t they know, and if they did..did they care? Not after the danger had passed for them..they were all past the worst of it..they wanted to put it all behind them..well I did too..desperately. It took a really long time for our water to recede..many, many days..day 42 was a good day, the small lake we lived on was finally back in its banks.

Twelve years later I still have bitter feelings toward the media, who forgot about outlying areas, small groups of houses that were all Islands. Sight seeing people in big honkin boats that sped by and caused the wakes to go over my dikes. The Red Cross that left me a jug of water, a pail and a mop..but never a sandwich.

We sold that house a year later, it was only on the market for a week and it sold, and when we showed them the flood photographs, they wanted the house anyway..they were young. It was a beautiful place to live, near the city, but with a country feel, with many wonderful neighbors. I miss that house sometimes..but never in the spring when it floods:(
 

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3 Responses to Flooding Memories

  1. East Side says:

    I thought you always wanted to live on an island…

  2. Dumbo says:

    I sure remember those days. My wife also was bitter about the nonchalance expressed by those who were not living next to the water. I guess growing up in the country I just expected that all of the attention would go to the city folks. Seems like it always does and always will.

    We are really glad that we aren’t there to have to fight another flood. Unfortunately there is too much political fighting for any meaningful results to help reduce the severity of flooding.

  3. PrairieWoman says:

    I have to give Governor John Hoeven credit for making this same point yesterday. It’s a good one that should not be forgotten by any of us.