After interning at MPR’s headquarters in St. Paul in college, I took a job at the company’s Moorhead bureau last summer. Before I drove to Fargo-Moorhead for the interview, the farthest up Interstate 94 I had been was Fergus Falls, where hills and lakes are still common. I’m originally from the Duluth area, so my mental picture of the Red River Valley area consisted of the Coen brothers movie, farms as far as the eye can see, and, of course, what seems like yearly floods.
In the last nine months, I’ve seen a lot to support those preconceptions, and a lot to knock them down. Now, as stores in the mall start pushing out spring styles and Fleet Farm puts ice fishing gear on clearance, the area’s collective attention is reluctantly turning to the Red River.
The latest flood forecast from the National Weather Service says there’s a 1-in-3 chance the Red River will reach record levels this spring in Fargo-Moorhead. The local paper, The Forum, is running 2-3 flood stories per day and just launched a “Guess the Crest” feature. I’ve recently picked up some big rubber boots and have plans to volunteer at Moorhead’s Sandbag Factory. (See video below. It’s quite the operation.)
So what else should a flatland newbie know about flood season?