Saving Riverview Circle: Periods of panic

(Update 9:44 p.m – I’ve embedded some video below)

When you’re in the “maintenance” portion of a flood, you have periods of relative calm punctuated by panic. Within the last few hours, we’ve had two such panic periods, both coming at the same time.

Seepage got pretty severe at one point of John Brummer’s dike. But there was no immediate help. Moorhead shut down the volunteer center, and the city doesn’t need any more, and we’re told there are plenty of sandbags somewhere. But not here.

John’s wife, Jeanie, ran down the street looking for help. Fortunately, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department was there. They came running…


So did several SUVs of firefighters from Moorhead and cities as far away as Roseville.


And so did the Morses and other neighbors. This is John’s wife leading the charge..


John had one pallet of sandbags in the driveway, but they were frozen. A frozen sandbag does you no good.

A second problem was going on in John’s basement. A drain has stubbornly refused to be plugged, and two ShopVacs weren’t keeping up. So Ed Dorsett and I headed to Fargo for drain plugs.

Go into any store here and boots, drain plugs, bottled water, and sump pumps are lined at the front. A clerk at Lowe’s said they hadn’t stocked up on drain plugs and were short until a day or so ago.

When we returned, an hour later, a third problem had broken out. That leak in the next-door neighbor’s house — the one John was talking about with the National Guard earlier today (see previous post) — had alarmed fire officials. And they ran to the area. A flatbed brought the sandbags, and the fork life operator (this guy is another of the unsung heroes of this street) was bringing them off as fast as the firefighters could stack them.




After two hours of furious work, the flow was slowed, and a sump pump was keeping up with things. A Moorhead firefighter adjusted it and headed for the next emergency, leaving Riverview Circle empty.


Down at Bruce and Vikki Johnson’s house, things have been moved out of the basement. The front step features a freezer (or refrigerator) and a suitcase…

Bruce is concerned about a big leak at the corner of this peninsula, so we walk down to take a look, and it’s coming in faster than it’s leaving. Water has poured in the back windows of a nearby house.

This, as it would turn out later, would be the next moment of high drama for the combined fire departments and law enforcement people.

Meanwhile, up at Highway 75, the “contingency dike” that threatened to ring in the neighborhood never developed into much. While some Minnesota State Troopers stopped vehicles, by late afternoon, the neighborhood was wide open, if empty.


Someone asked for pictures of the houses down the street where the emergency dikes were built yesterday. This is where everyone was running to in that video I posted yesterday during an evacuation.



The sun is setting over a Red River that’s lost ground today. But the night watch has begun, and the threat is far from over.


(See all News Cut flood posts)