Saving Riverview Circle – Part two


I was back on Riverview Circle in Moorhead today.

Temps in the 30s have replaced yesterday’s 50s. Snow is covering the mud and already partially flooded streets. The kids who made the street buzz yesterday…


… are gone. Remnants of their sandbag-making are still in the street, along with a few sandbags.


The Red River, of course, is still here and getting closer.

Yesterday, at 3517 Riverview Circle, the water was starting to climb the stairs…


Today, it’s got a lot fewer steps to go…


Teams of Moorhead firefighters are walking through the backyards of homes, checking the three-mile-long sandbag dike the residents and volunteers have built since Saturday. “Shooting elevation” they call it in flood prep lingo.

It’s not always a happy “everybody pitches in to help the neighborhood” story.

As I sat with Bruce and Vikki Johnson at 3526 Riverview Circle, a firefighter knocks on the back door to tell them the wall behind a house a few doors down has to come up another foot. It’s bad news. The man who lives there has refused to help build the dike, and didn’t want it there in the first place. The fire chief gave him an ultimatum — let the dike come through the backyard, or the city will build a clay dike in the front, and cut him off.

During the flood of 1997, it was “everyone for him/herself” in Moorhead. But this time, the decision was made to build one long dike around this neighborhood.

The Johnsons have been taking a breather today, but now they know they’ll have to go back to work along with other neighbors, building up the dike behind the man’s house. They’ll have one less pair of hands to help. Their daughter, a high school senior, has left to help a friend whose family’s home is “in trouble” somewhere along the Red..

Across the street — at 3521 — Todd and Donna Morse — are thinking some of the water in the swimming pool in the backyard should be pumped out. Donna welcomes me in with the words that can make a grown man cry real tears: “I was just reading your blog.”

Then, bad news comes on the phone: Emergency sandbagging is underway down in Wolverton, about halfway between here and Breckenridge. The river is higher than expected, and it’s heading this way.

Teams of rescue specialists have surveyed where to store airboats, just in case river rescues become necessary later. Riverview Circle is one site that’s been selected.

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