Friday, June 22, 2012

Washed Away

I had another post planned for today until I went on Facebook and was reminded by the posts of many childhood friends that today was the anniversary of a day that many of us will never forget. One year ago today the Souris River over-topped the dikes in Minot, ND. Minot is my hometown. We moved to CT when I was 13. Some days I miss it more then others. I don't miss the -40 degree weather and the several feet of snow that we would get every winter. We would have to choose Halloween costumes that we could wear over snowsuits because we never knew what the weather would be like. Minot is one of the 5 biggest cities in North Dakota. No I didn't live on farm. I lived on the Air Force Base until I went into 2nd grade, then we moved to town. We had tornado drills in school and I don't ever remember having a snow day. There would be a couple feet of snow on the ground and it was still coming down but we went to school. When my dad retired from the Air Force we decided to move to CT because my parents are both from Massachusettes and that was the closest job Dad could find. But back to the Flood of 2011.

Minot is built in a valley. The Souris River, which is french for Mouse River, runs through Minot dividing the North and South. Normally the Mouse is a very calm river and rarely floods. If any cities ever flood it is usually Fargo and Grand Forks. Well the winter of 2010-2011 was a bad one. The Midwest and Canada had tons of snow. When it melted it started flooding a lake in Canada. To relieve some pressure and reduce the flooding, Canada decided to open their levees which then sent that water south and caused flooding in ND. The only thing that made this somewhat better then it might have been is that because it was a planned release many citizens in Minot and surrounding towns were able to evacuate flood zones prior to the actual flood. Many people moved most, if not all, of their posessions out of there houses or at least to the 2nd floor, in the hope of saving them. They then were forced to leave their homes and either move in with friends, family or even strangers outside of the flood zones. Every hotel room in the area was booked.

Though I no longer live there I had a major emotional reaction to the flood. The local news station in Minot was streaming the news online 24 hours a day. I had it open on my computer at work and just listened all day. The minute the emergency sirens went off they started airing that eerie sound online. I just started crying thinking about the flooding to come, but not knowing how much my hometown would suffer. 

Minot was not the only city or town affected. Many surrounding towns were flooded as well. If you wanted to get from North Minot to South Minot you had to travel 2 hours out and around to do so. Broadway, one of the main roads that connected North and South, was closed for safety reasons.

Here are some pictures of the flooding.
The house on the right with the lighter grey/brown roof is the house of the childhood home of my elementary school friends. Here parents still live here.

This was the fate of many houses. Many of my friends had either their homes or family members' homes get completely flooded.

This was my Middle School. It was one story except for the gym. 
The flood water reached the roof of most of my middle school. Now this school was not right on the shore. It was several blocks away from the river and they had built a 8-10 foot dirt dike around the school and the water still over-topped it. Last I heard the school was almost a complete loss. Once the water was gone the mold started to grow. My childhood home got lucky. I lived about a 10 minute walk from the middle school. However, in an effort to save Minot State University many emergency staff were directed to build a huge dirt wall down Broadway and across in front of the the University. By doing so they cut off my neighborhood from the flood.

Another lucky break for the city was that the Zoo had already evacuated the animals because of a flood threat earlier in the month. The river goes right through the Roosevelt Park Zoo.


Last year Zoo Director, David Merritt, said it may be 1-2 years before they can re-open the zoo. They are still not open yet. The zoo draws 74,000 visitors a year. Currently the Zoo's website says: The staff is '"cautiously optimistic" that the zoo will open in August 2012.

Some people came back to rebuild after the flood, some just left their houses and never came back and some had nothing to come back to. We saw one house get completely washed away by the river.

Below is a video of a lot of the flooding and damage that happened all over Minot. Maybe its just me but I warn you, you might cry watching it. Those sirens still get me every time, I can't even imagine what it was like for the people who lived there.

Minot Flood 2011: 4100 homes heavily damaged by the Mouse River in Ward County in North Dakota. Roughly 12,000 people are displaced and many of those will NEVER be able to return to their homes. This is a tribute to all of "us" who lost our homes!
If you'd like to donate to the recovery process you can go to:

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