I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of commentary about Fargo Moorhead’s need, real or perceived, of a permanent diversion to protect the metro from the spring floods of the Red River. The Red draws a boundary between the two cities and their respective states, in such a winding pattern that it can leave you wondering which side you are on. For the common water enthusiast, it is not a recreational river, save for the catfish fishing and occasional canoe launch.
Lately, comments have turned to versions of this: Moorhead has done a great job in erecting smaller dike projects to protect the city. Why doesn’t Fargo do the same and we wouldn’t need this massive, expensive diversion?
It’s true: Moorhead has invested millions into smaller-scale flood protection projects (more on that here). But take a look at a new map that has re-entered my life…
It’s no Google satellite image but it is our way of showing you the way to our Chamber house. Our offices are in the Hjemkomst Center. The blue is the Red. This week I’m losing at least a route to work per day or more to flood waters and by Monday I’ll be working from home.
Here’s another picture for you.
These are the river level predictions of the National Weather Service which I would venture to say most area residents have a link to on their desktop right about now. For three springs in a row, this constantly updated graph has secured a presence in my life.
This year, even with all of Moorhead’s investment to protect its boundaries, is no different.
Flood planning has been valiant this year. We make sandbags early and orderly, with plenty of time to spare before the waters rose. Our Chamber veep updated us daily on our plans for 34 feet, 36 feet, etc. At 39 feet, he said, we’ll plug the toilets and bring in porta-potties. Our nearly all female staff dug their high heels in and said “Uh uh. Not acceptable conditions.” A Chamber member offered us temporary reprieve in their office, far from river waters.
So my friends, I am in favor of a diversion. And I want something grand – Winnipeg style. Something that transforms our pretty little river into a recreation destination. Let’s build riverside bistros and drink beer in the sunshine while we gaze at the Red.
I’m well aware of the immense cost of this project; just as I am of the immense cost of no diversion. In the immortal words of Sally the Porsche, “This is a town worth saving!”
I want security for the future of my town so “flood” never enters an economic development conversation and our FEMA flood plain shrinks in my lifetime.