Shortly after arriving in Baxter Friday afternoon, Mary pulled me over to her computer. “Take a look at these photos,” she said. They were pictures sent through email by her sister of her family’s farmstead, located about halfway between Fargo and Grand Forks on the Minnesota side. I’ve now received permission to post those photos, as well as some of Nancy’s email reflections, which I find both informative and entertaining. I’ll call these “flood tails.” (Photos by Nancy Hanson)
March 25, 12 noon
Water has been pouring over the dike for about 20 hours now. When it first hits, the water flows behind our house, “kind of like a trout stream,” K.C. says. The entire section is filling up with water (a section is one mile x one mile x one mile x one mile, so one square mile for those who don’t know about measurements in the country). And when the section fills, the water then back-fills into our yard. It has done that now. We’re talking about two to three feet of water for as far as you can see.
Sadly, the sandbag dike around the house is not holding. There’s water between the house and the sandbags, and it’s pouring (well “pouring” is a bit strong…it’s “dripping fast”) into the basement. The sump pump is running pretty much constantly, and we will lose this fight eventually unless the water stops flowing over the dike. We hooked up another sump pump outside the house to try and reduce the water flow into the house. It’s working for now.
I took a walk to Mom and Dad’s this morning in my hip-waders, and the water was thigh-high. Dad tried to walk to the road in his knee-waders, but the water was too high. It poured into his boot and brought him to his knees. He’s okay, but it took him and Mom a long time to get the boots off.
Here’s hoping we don’t lose our furnace or electricity.
Hope you are all warm and dry.
March 27th, 12:45 p.m.
K.C. says, “we’re not out of the woods yet.” I tell him, “you’re using the wrong metaphor.” The water continues to pour in over the dike, but it has slowed down some. Last night the entire yard froze over except for the channel of water that makes an S-curve and ends up somewhere between our house and Mom & Dad’s house. The water level on our foundation has dropped about two inches since yesterday, so that means only about 8 inches of foundation are submerged in water. Isn’t it funny that that’s an improvement?
The water continues to gush into the basement from a variety of places. The worst area is on our west wall. The water has filled the crawl space under the addition and is pouring through the opening between the addition and the basement proper. It’s also pouring in on the east side around the window. ( I wonder why there even needs to be basement windows….) Anyway, the sump pump in the basement runs almost constantly, but so far it has been able to keep the basement from flooding.
Today the barn cats have finally ventured out to take a look around. Pandora, Neptune, Pluto, and Slinx (after the Sphinx, but with a Slinky sort of twist), all crept over the frozen yard to check out what’s happening at our house. (Do you know I named all the barn cats after mythological beasts and villains? It seemed like the right thing to do). The other 7 cats haven’t made an appearance yet, and by this afternoon they probably won’t be able to get here. Things are beginning to melt.
In other news, our Moorhead neighborhood evacuated this morning. I’m not sure if the river is coming up or if they want people out of there because of sewer backup and the like. Either way, had we still been living in Moorhead, we would have had to get out today. I’m just hoping nothing horrible happens to our house–we still own it, unfortunately.
It sounds like Nathan got out safely yesterday and is staying with a friend near Maple Lake, MN. Our other friends in F/M are staying where they are…at least for now.
The nights get kind of long here…we’re still checking the pumps every 30 minutes to make sure nothing has frozen up or has stopped running. Other than that, everything is going better than expected here. We still have heat & electricity, plenty of coffee and TP. We are, however, down to our last four Cokes, so if anyone happens to be driving by, please bring Coca-Cola.
Hope you are all safe, warm, and dry.
2:20 addendum: I slogged through the water to get the mail (Go Postal Carriers! Rain or sleet or floods….), and on the way there I uncovered a FISH trying to swim down our driveway. The nearest river is probably seven miles away, so I don’t know where he came from. I was going to keep him to show K.C., but I let him go. It seemed wrong, somehow, that a little fighter like that would meet his demise at my hands. (No picture, sorry. I can’t get my stupid phone to take pictures when I want it to. It thinks I want to take flix… but I do have a ten second video of my sock, if anyone is interested).
P.S. The photo: K.C’s boat, moored at our back door. The cat in the foreground is Slinx, the one on the boat is Neptune.
March 29, 7:16 p.m.
The news of the fish in the yard set off quite a commotion at the Hanson House. K.C. immediately made me sit down, and like a witness to a crime, I had to look at K.C.’s poster of every fish native to Minnesota and try to identify which one I set free. I, of course, didn’t pay any attention to the shape of the tail or what sort of dorsal fin it had…I just had a vague memory of some brown, some whitish-cream, and some red colors on the fish. So the closest fish to my memory in the line-up was a Brook Trout. Let me tell you, if you don’t know this about K.C., this news was a really big deal. I suppose you could equate it to the day they discovered Neptune, or the day they found the Titanic on the bottom of the ocean floor. There really isn’t anything more important to K.C. than fishing. He immediately dashed upstairs, grabbed his fly fishing apparatus, and headed out to the yard…I did too, to take some pictures and to look for another fish. I found one that had washed up on the ice (see picture #2), and after much searching on the internet, K.C. determined that it was not, in fact, a small Brook Trout, but a lowly Mud Minnow. All fishing and talk of fishing stopped at that moment (the fish in question perked right up when he got back in the water).
All-in-all our flood fight lasted just over 100 hours. I suppose there’s no way to estimate how many thousands of thousands of gallons of water rushed into our yard during that time. Our continual pumping saved the house from being flooded, so we’re pretty proud of that. My dad says he’s never seen anything like it, even in 1997, and he’s lived here for more than 70 years. What we’re left with now is a whole bunch of ice and lots of mud…Here’s hoping it’s over for now. This summer there will be several truckloads of good Red River clay dumped on that permanent dike, let me tell you.
Hope all is well with you,