May 28, 2011

Flood Watch 2011!

Yes folks, we are right in the middle of a flood emergency in North Dakota! When we drove out to visit family we had no idea we'd end up in the middle of the Spring thaw that would bring floods. Turns out, it's been a record year for precipitation and the dam that is holding the waters back is as capacity.

The place is Bismarck, ND and the problem is water! There is currently too much of it at the Garrison Dam so the releases for the season have been increased making the Missouri River rise past it's flood stage of 16 feet. The river in Bismarck / Mandan is currenlty expected to rise to about 21 feet, however, since we've been here that number has risen 3 times as well as the release amounts so it is entirely possible the projected numbers are conservative at best. As of today, the Dakota Zoo has been closed for the summer and the animals have been relocated to various locations in North Dakota and Minnesota. Some places are on voluntary evacuation while others are just sandbagging and bracing for what happens.

Because the release amounts and dates keep changing, many of the residents are frustrated and anxious about what may happen. Something else that adds to the tension is the "variable" factor. The snow packs in Montana have not yet melted, and they empty into the Missouri. That means the Garrison dam officials have no way of knowing how many releases will be made over the course of the summer and how long any flooded areas will be underwater. Flooding is currently projected to last through the end of July or even into August.

Luckily my parents-in-law live in a ranch on the prairie so we are not "close" to the endangered areas. However, my sister-in-law's home is within the areas expected to flood and they just bought their home last Fall. We're helping as much as possible (unfortunately with an infant I'm not much help) by hauling items out to the ranch and moving things out of their basement. It is als possible that they'll be moving out to the prairie for the summer once the waters rise enough and mandatory evacuation is put into place.

I've grown up in the Northeast so we don't get prep time for floods, we get flash floods. . . I'm not sure what's worst. Nonetheless, many people are doing all they can to help themselves and their neighbors get through this event. I heard a lady on the news yesterday say something that can help put it all into perspective she said "We're doing what we can but in the end, I'm not going to cry for anything that can't cry for me. It's all just stuff. If my family is fine, then that's what matters."

My family and I will be fine, and we'll be hitting the road in a few days, however, we'll leave behind the bulk of the emergency and lots of preparations for an unexpected disaster. We'll leave our love and send up prayers, knowing that all will work out as it will.

For a few more photos of what's happening to prepare Click Here.

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