Dang it’s wet.

Flooded farm

Spring 2011 is historic for its wetness, beyond anything every recorded in North Dakota.  In the prairie pothole region of North Dakota between Steel and Devils Lake, up through Hurdsfield, the saying is, “You can’t get there from here.”  Even if you’re in the farm house, you can’t get to the barn.  I’m standing on the road to the farm house, and I can’t get there either.

Hwy 36 flooded at Wing

It’s true everywhere.  In the morning I drove down this road and the water was lapping at the shoulders.  By evening, it was deep over the road and I couldn’t get the last 23 miles home.

Kids sandbagging

Of course what was an inconvenience for me was a disaster for many. That’s why sandbagging became the social event of Spring 2011 in Bismarck.  You can bet when these youngsters are grandparents, they’ll be telling their kids about the flood of 2011 when the Missouri River topped all historic levels.  The town of Bismarck and area residents turned out to shovel sandbags.  I borrowed a neighbor’s trailer and hauled sandbags to folks who were fighting the Muddy Mo.  But if it weren’t for the hundreds of volunteers at the sandbag sites, there’s be no way homeowners could protect their homes from the 500-year level flood.

From the northwest corner of the state at Williston through central North Dakota, down to South Dakota, the story was the same.  Too much water.  The Army Corps of Engineers held back as much water as it wanted at the Corps dams, Sakakawea, Fort Pierre and Chamberlain until the river threatened the dams.  Then came the big releases that flooded downstream cities such as Bismarck and Mandan.

Though the sign was in the perpetually flooded town of  Devils Lake when I drove through there it summed up the feelings of most people — just add a few more zeros to the capacity of the requested ark.

Now as you look back to the spring of 2011 — what word would you use to describe it?  I already used the word “wet.” Your turn.

A wet Grand Forks — May 15

Grand Forks Red River bridges

It sure can be pretty, the full moon, the still water, and the bridges over the Red River, but as spring 2011 winds down and summer is headed to North Dakota, there is still plenty of water — or as some would say, “water under the bridge.”

Water under the Sorlie Bridge

A stroll by the Red River in East Grand Forks

And indeed there is water under every bridge in Grand Forks in May 2011.  The East Grand Forks Recreation Trail goes now where, suitable only for scuba divers.

The Sorlie Bridge is a landmark in Grand Forks and all of North Dakota. There are few if any bridges like it.  In order to accommodate the freeze-thaw cycle that causes steel to expand and contract, as well as to accommodate the traffic on the bridge, it is built on railroad wheels that move with the bridge in it’s seasonal changes.

Sorlie Bridge

Near the Sorlie Bridge, along the Red River on this spring evening people gather at one of the more popular watering holes in East Grand Forks.  They’re anticipating summer. ready to ride through the bridge across the swollen water on their bicycle.

Or next to the bridge, they park their motorcycles while grabbing a beverage along the river, then heading out for a evening’s chilly ride.  They’re excited to see spring, even if they’re a bit concerned about all the water.  On this particular evening, even the dogs are out, well sorta out.  They’re in their master’s truck while he and his family enjoy a night along the river.  These dogs are particular friendly and have a nose for the camera…well almost, until I stepped just out of the wet sniffer.

I had already eaten and now was wandering the parkway looking for a way to capture the swollen river.  The sun set before I got out of there, and headed back to my motel for the night.  But before I left, I had to capture the image you see at the top of this blog, and the one that ends this blog, the traffic across the landmark Sorlie Bridge.

Have you been to Grand Forks and enjoyed the summer evening next to the Red River?  It’s a nasty beast as residents can tell you, and as you can survey the rebuild from the 1997 flood.  But on this night, though flooding it was peaceful.  How’s it when you are there?

August 2

Flooded Highway 83

Coming in to Bismarck from the north on Highway 83, the results of the night’s rain were evident.  Though drainage in North Bismarck is much better than in South Bismarck, this

intersection was plugged.  Though we get only about 14-16 inches of precipitation a year, including snow, this scene is evident that sometimes it can come in great abundance at one time.


Waiting for water

Bismarck City crews were on hand to open plugged storm sewer lines and open up the closed lanes of Highway 83.  By noon, the flooded intersection was only a damp spot on the highway.

July 20

Riverview Cemetery rainbow

As you probably know, there aren’t too many hills in North Dakota.

Just west of Wilton is Riverview Cemetery where I can sit after a rain storm, or even during one to watch the storms pass by. In this case, after it passed me, it left its mark of God’s promise to never flood the world again. The rainbow.