Here’s something you almost never see in the media: Someone taking sandbag dikes down. Sure, it’s not as sexy as live broadcasts from the frantic construction — and you’ll note there are no long lines of volunteers showing up to help out — but it’s a significant moment in the flood flight of 2011 in Minnesota: its conclusion.
This is part of the dike at Keith Miller’s house on Riverview Circle in Moorhead. It’s the neighborhood where I’ve spent most of the last two major floods on the Red River. Once the sandbags are removed, the fences between neighbors — they come down physically and metaphorically — during flood season can go back up.
These pictures were taken yesterday and today, with the Red River at 28.1 feet; that’s about 10 feet lower than the crest last month and a little more than 10 feet above where the river normally is when it’s behaving itself. Even so, this image is a good example of just how far above the river many of these threatened houses are.
This may be one of the last images of sandbags in Moorhead. The mayor wants this to be the last time the city and residents have to put sandbags here or anywhere else along the river. Attorney Miller, who took these photos, writes that he’s hoping to have a landscape architect from North Dakota State University give him some alternatives to the giant pile of dirt the city envisions as the solution to building sandbag dikes next year.
Of course next year and alternatives to sandbags are the least of the things on the mind of residents today along the Mississippi in Memphis where flood season is just now underway. The river isn’t expected to crest until next Wednesday.