Cresting river brings back memories of flood

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — As the Red River moved toward its earliest crest on record here, it revived memories of devastation.
The river was cresting Wednesday at about 40 feet, with no major damage expected. The crest was 14 feet lower than last April, when flooding forced residents to flee and a fire ravaged downtown.
Feelings still run as deep as the river for those who lost their homes. Some avoid looking at the rising water.
“I saw it on TV and it made the hair stand up on my neck,” said Micky Huot, who lost her home last April. She hasn’t been down to look at the Red this year.
“Nope, and I don’t intend to,” she added. She said she has purchased a home with “lots of flood insurance.”
“I’ve been planning a way out, just in case,” said bartender Mick Gibbs, who lives in a basement-level apartment that got flooded last year. He said he realizes this year’s flood outlook is not a bad one, but he has a “feeling of distrust” over such forecasts.
David Badman is calm, even though he lost his art studio and business last spring.
“I’m not at all intimidated,” he said. “I took a thumpin’ last year, I had a lot of heartache, but I learned I can have heartache and live.”
He said he walked down to the river Tuesday.
“It’s there, it’s ominous,” he said. “I don’t think I’m being stupid, I’m watching. But I learned.”
The current crest is the earliest on record, surpassing the mark of 37.75 feet on March 21, 1995. The water level will remain that high until the end of the week, said Wendy Pearson, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.
Flood conditions are a possibility for the next six weeks, Pearson said.
“At this point, there is a possibility of another crest. It all depends on how much precipitation we get over the next four to six weeks,” she said. “We don’t know what will happen beyond this week.”
Unless the river rises dramatically, the city Emergency Operations Center will not be too busy this year. Dikes are at 50 feet and will not be built up until crest forecasts reach 45 to 47 feet, manager Jim Campbell said.
Since the dikes were widened at the top during the summer, they can now be built up with clay instead of the millions of sandbags that were piled up last year.
Until the river starts going down, cold and dry weather would be ideal to keep the river from cresting higher later.
“Any moisture not in the river now, we’d like to see it freeze,” Campbell said. “We’d like to see it stay below freezing so the water in the channel has a chance to flow north.”