Riverview Circle has been saved


If not quite normal, it was at least quiet on Riverview Circle in Moorhead today. John Brummer’s stairs to his backyard continue to reappear. Inside the house, John is putting things away and preparing for a trip to Mississippi this weekend. His daughter is heading there for some additional National Guard training.

There was no answer at the Johnson house. If there’s any justice at all, they’re sleeping.

Donna Morse has gone off to work. “Fighting these things takes money,” Adam Stewart says as he works in the garage. Donna’s brother, Mike, is heading back to Colorado by a southern route to avoid the coming blizzard, which nobody seems that concerned about.

The Woodbury Fire Department — my hometown crew — arrived today and has been assigned these houses to monitor. As I talked to them, I learned more about the critical point at which this battle was won.

According to a Moorhead firefighter, it’s the moment that I captured on video. This one:

(Update 4:05 pm Tues 3/31 – I just realized that in this video above, you’ll see a firefighter in blue pointing and deploying other firefighters. He’s the one who told the story to us.)

All of the firefighters were supposed to be going the same way the rest of us were. But as you can see, they refused to leave. “We heard a splash and saw the sandbags going,” the firefighter said to me and the Woodbury crew. A metal rod, used to reinforce the dike, was bent over, triggering the possible calamity. I didn’t realize at the time I was filming the exact spot where the wall was collapsing.

If you were listening to All Things Considered last Friday, you heard it happening, too.


When the breach was plugged about 1:30 a.m., he says he turned to his friend and acknowledged that maybe that wasn’t such a smart thing to do. Maybe. Protocol and common sense says the firefighters shouldn’t have stayed to fight. But they did. Because they did, 1,500 homes were saved.

For me, the most memorable moment, however, happened on Thursday, when the Morses, their family, some neighbors, and friends were trying to reinforce the dike. I was passing sandbags when I dropped a sandbag, ruining the rhythm that a ‘bucket brigade’ requires. A moment later, I stumbled on the stumps of some bushes. “I’m not helping anybody at all, here,” I said. “You’re doing fine,” someone else said.

Later in the day, over at John Brummer’s house, a young teen was straining under the weight of lifting huge sandbags to begin the brigade. He’d just emptied a pickup truck full and now he was working on a pallet. His face contorted with pain with every bag. “Are you OK, kid?” someone said. “I’m good,” the kid said.

The river is still up to the sandbags and still presents a threat, but residents are allowing themselves to relax and in some cases leaving home and going to work.

So this is a good time for me to leave work and go home. I’m bringing an autographed sandbag with me.


(I hope the neighborhood will post updates over the next few days in this spot. I’ll try to keep this last post from scrolling off the page. Meanwhile, to read all of the dispatches from Riverview Circle, go here.)

Update 3:54 p.m. Tue. 3/31/09 – John Brummer has a message in the comments section below. I’m taking a few days off (it turns out I’m not as young as I used to be). When I stopped in to MPR on Monday evening, I did an interview with Tom Crann for All Things Considered. () I’ll be back here in a few days.

  • OprEowyn

    I’m so glad for the neighborhood! Thank you for sharing your struggles with us. And Bob, superb work on the blog.

    Please let us know when you are ready for/need clean-up volunteers.

  • Sarah Berg

    Thanks, Bob, for all the commentary, photos, and videos. This is John Brummer’s niece, Sarah. We have spent time celebrating at Riverview Circle for past events such as weddings, graduations, etc. Now is another time to celebrate and in the future we will now have more opportunities, thanks to all those who helped!!

    The Brummer family is extremely strong… and supportive of one another. We wish we could have thrown a few sandbags, but our time will come for clean up!! See you soon, Uncle John!

  • Lori

    PTL !! We are so glad to hear things are settling back down on Riverview Circle ! Thanks again for your terrific reporting Bob. It meant the world to family who couldn’t be there in person!!

  • Laura Brummer

    Wow! Praise God! I am another of John Brummer’s nieces and I am so grateful for this website. I felt so connected the whole time and it was just great to be able to know what to pray for each day. Thanks so much Bob. And thank you God for saving these homes!

  • Thank you, Bob Collins, for telling these stories. This is fine, fine journalism, and it’s pretty clear that you are not in it just for the story. Good work. (And good work, Riverview Circle! Way to hang in there!)

  • Bill Brummer-Mission Viejo, CA

    Bob, excellent coverage of these Families fight for their homes. You captured their struggle in such vivid detail, that at times we almost felt as if we were there!

    John, Jeanie, Family & Neighbors; you dug your heals in and fought the good fight in the true pioneer spirit. Congrats! Your Ancestors would be very proud of you, as are we!

    Best Wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Bill & Sue

  • John & Jeanie

    Hi Bob and all,

    This is my first experience with a blog or blogging! What a great tool – but it should have spell check!

    Yesterday was really the first time I was able to read Bob’s “notebook” and postings, thank everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement. I couldn’t have responded sooner for a few reasons, one being this is the first day that I can use my cracked and raw fingers. (Thank you Jen for your treatments!)

    It’s Tuesday morning, and the next snow storm is in high gear, it won’t bother us, not now.

    During these past days, it is has been one of the most difficult rollercoaster’s that I have ever been on (and I don’t like roller-coasters)! Yes – we have WON!! It would have not happen without a lot of help and support from many.

    I think we could write a few chapters about the flood of 2009, but blogs are suppose to be short. I think your readers should know that this event has brought Riverview Circle closer together. I think when I see neighbors driving or walking by, the simple wave or “good morning” will have a whole different meaning, we were all in this together. All of the neighbors were all helping each other.

    The Morse family is one of the best, a special thank you to Jim, Hoss, Adam and Mike – your extra efforts really saved our home. Todd and Donna – we look forward to many occasions to celebrate.

    Our neighbors to the north were helping on our dike several days and we even had time after one of the first days to have a sandwich and a cold one …thanks Keith and Linda!

    To our sons: Tom – you were my right and left arm, the number of times I yelled “Tom” do this” – “get that” you did it time and time again – and never complained. Danny – the extra effort that you made traveling back and forth from Bismarck, your strong back and big smile were priceless – not to mention the caddy shack moment!

    Even tho Matt , Andrea and our four grandchildren are in Honduras your continued calls and prayers were well received. I know that you will appreciate and enjoy moving all those sandbags when you guys are here for Tom and Shana’s wedding in June!

    To our daughters: Jennifer – you did it all – from carrying and placing bags to all night pump watching to fixing my hands and my sprit. Amie & Scott (son-in-law) your traveling back and forth from Bismarck with the two little girls gave us some sense of normal – I love those grandbabies! (helping build the dike was good too!)

    Scott and Lisa, Mary and Michelle – thank you for your long drives to get here and help save us!

    I wonder how many people on the front lines in this war zone have thought this is our 9/11. I know it is no comparison to the thousands of lives lost during that terrisot attack, those families have and are living thru that tradagiy. We will never forget them!

    Three of our biggest THANK YOU’s go out to the FIREFIGHTERS that have come from hundreds of miles to help save Riverview Circle, especially Dean and Justin from our Moorhead fire department – your positive attitudes and professionalism was the best.

    All the VOLUNTERS, like I said in Bob’s first interview, the volunteers’ are so giving and selfless. Like Larry’s family from south Moorhead. Even though his house is surrounded by water, he and his wife along with daughter (8th grader) Dria came back to our house every day! They were complete strangers a few weeks ago – but will never be strangers now!

    Bob Collins – one of our new friends, we will always be grateful to you for telling our story! We looked forward to seeing you everyday because you said you would stay with us until we won – when you were here, we still had hope. Your professionalism and calm presence helped us in our fight on the Red River of the North!

    There are so many moments that I could comment on – but the main thing is that our families are safe.

    May God Bless you all.

    With love and gratitude to all of you,

    John and Jeanie McMerty Brummer

  • Joan

    Thanks for the great reports about Riverview Cirlce. Tuesday morning, when Riverview Circle woke to nearly a foot of snow and no snowblowers as they had all been moved to higher ground, John put a snow blade on his mover and cleared EVERYONE’S drive way – through both cul-de-sacs! Thanks John!

  • Karen & Dennis Stugelmeyer

    Thank you for the posts Bob! Your video was amazing. We are around the corner on 36th Ave. Circle South. Looks like we get to gear up for round two!