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SENTRY JOURNAL » Uncategorized » Minot Flood: Where we go from here…

Minot Flood: Where we go from here…

First off I want thank Colin, Matt, and RHM for posting in my absence.  These past weeks have been very trying times for the residents of my city.  As many you know Minot is going through the worst flood in its history.  Last Sunday at midnight the Mouse River crested at 1,561.72 feet; just shy of thirteen feet over the flood stage of 1,549 feet. These are the key numbers Minot has had to contend with these past few weeks.  These are the numbers that forced the evacuation of 11,000 citizens with only 48 hours notice.

The people of our city worked together and helped friends, family, and strangers move a massive amount of material in a very short time.  They used flat bed trailers, horse trailers, moving trucks, vehicles of all types and size.  Anything that could be packed with household goods and transported was used.  In a day and a half 11,000 residents evacuated their homes and found refuge with friends and family.  People were building sandbags to help protect the property of strangers while private contractors and the National Guard raced against the clock to build secondary levees.  It was an absolutely remarkable display of the best in all of us.

The waters are now slowly receding.  The level now is 1559.40 feet and we are expected to stay above the flood stage for a few weeks.  4,100 homes have been impacted by the flood.  FEMA estimates that 20 percent of them are a total loss.  It’s tough to get around the city because the Mouse slices across it.  For the past week the only route that connects north and south is the bypass.  This has caused major traffic jams measured in the miles.  The main street (Broadway) used by the residents was closed off early during this event.  City officials announced yesterday that the street would be reopened in a limited scope today.  Telephone land line services are out in portions of the city.  Additionally there are numerous breaks in the city water mains, forcing residents to boil their water before consumption and to limit use to essential needs.  In areas close to the flooding a number of basements have been overwhelmed by backed up sewer lines.  We’ve lost a number of our elementary schools to the flood and critical infrastructure in the city is hanging on by a thread.  The loss is staggering and it’s believed that the estimated cost to our city is in the range of a $130 million.  And to think that winter is only three months away.  The feeling of loss is starting to set in and people are now asking the question as to how this could happen.

How could a system of dams (Rafferty, Alameda, and Lake Darling Dams) that were built to minimize or even eliminate the impact of a flood fail?  Was it gross incompetence by Army Corps of Engineers or were their hands tied by environmental policies?  Was it Canada’s mismanagement of the Rafferty and Alameda water levels or was this just a weather event that overwhelmed the entire system?  There are many questions that we need answers to.  The one thing I do know is there is a very real possibility that this can happen again if the above questions are not looked into.  This is where we must go from here.  We must discover the root cause and determine if it could have been preventable.  If it was indeed a significant weather event that overwhelmed the system then we must take steps to move all housing and commercial building projects from the flood zones.  If it was environmental policies that tied the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers so they could not effectively manage the water levels at Lake Darling then we must look at removing those barriers.  After all the safety and protection of human refuge should be a number priority above all else.  And finally the United States contributed $41 million towards the Rafferty/Alameda projects.  The goal was to create a system of dams to minimize or eliminate the possibility of Minot experiencing a disastrous flood like the one in 1969.  Clearly this goal has not been met and I believe the money should be returned to help offset the cost of the damage caused by this terrible flood.  In my opinion it was money that was not well spent.  I applaud Senator Conrad and Hoeven for taking the first steps in trying to determine how this whole event happen and if there were some things that could have been done to prevent it.  It should be the priority of our elected officials and residents.  It needs a level of attention that must be constant and focused.

We must get to the bottom of this because like most residents I’m asking many of the same questions.  How could we go from everything is going to be fine to you have 48 hours to evacuate in a matter of a few weeks?  How could we go from taking down the secondary levees put up a few weeks ago to surrendering a large portion of the city to the rising waters?  It’s just not adding up.  I believe that until these questions are answered we shouldn’t nail one piece of wood together in the evacuation zones.  One of the steps in the recovery process is to be able to trust in our system.  We must trust in our system to move forward.  We need to know that the right people are monitoring and managing the water levels and that their hands aren’t tied.  We need to believe we’re not going to be wasting our money, time, and energy building in an area that one day again might be under 10 feet water.  Until some of these questions have been answered a level of uncertainty will hover around the people of our city, making it difficult to move forward during the recovery stage.  We must all stay engaged and hold our elected officials feet to the fire.  After the loss we all witnessed this past week I believe they owe us some answers.  I’m going to do my part to make sure they stay the course.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!

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Comments
  • RandyG July 2, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    I have been thinking about you John, my company’s main store is there and six of our people lost homes. I don’t know all the facts, but rain alone did not cause all that water. God bless you.
    RandyG recently posted..Friday Nite FunniesMy Profile

    • John Carey July 2, 2011 at 5:43 PM

      Thanks Randy for the thoughts. I too find it hard to wrap my brain around the notion that one significant weather event overwhelmed the system and this is what led to our flood. Mismanagement of the water levels appears to more plausible.
      John Carey recently posted..Minot Flood: Where we go from here…My Profile

  • RandyG July 2, 2011 at 7:19 AM

    I might be confused, or to wrapped up in self, but does RHM also live there? I pray for all up there right now. We in Bismarck, Mandan have dodged the bullet I think.
    RandyG recently posted..Friday Nite FunniesMy Profile

  • Steve Dennis July 2, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    You have been in my thoughts as well, I am glad to hear that the worst may be over. It is truly inspiring to hear the stories of the way your community came together and I hope that you will soon have some normalcy in your life.
    Steve Dennis recently posted..The United States is still flying hundreds of bombing missions in LibyaMy Profile

  • Teresa July 2, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    You have been in my thoughts and prayers John. It certainly sounds like answers are needed as to why this huge flood happened. Something smells fishy. The way that the people in Minot responded to the crisis is inspiring. Hang tough. Hopefully the waters will start receding at a faster pace.
    Teresa recently posted..Hunkalicious – Jensen Ackles and Channing TatumMy Profile

    • John Carey July 2, 2011 at 5:53 PM

      I know people really want to get back in their homes to access the damage. However the water is receding so slowly it looks like it is going to weeks. I do believe we need to take a hard look at how this could happen and hopefully fix it.
      John Carey recently posted..Minot Flood: Where we go from here…My Profile

  • Matt July 2, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    It’s a wonderful story, in terms of the people, and how they banded together. And, no community organizers were needed.

    The potentially nefarious part is the allegations that it was allowed to happen. I hope it is investigated, but with this administration, who knows?
    Matt recently posted..The Story of our Declaration of IndependenceMy Profile

    • John Carey July 2, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      The people of the city reacted to this crisis in an amazing manner. These are good people who deserves some answers. This post is one of the first steps in raising awareness as I have cross linked it to my facebook page. Thanks for your support in all of this Matt in helping me get the word out.
      John Carey recently posted..Minot Flood: Where we go from here…My Profile

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  • proof July 3, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    I hope you get the answers you’re looking for, John. Our hearts go out to all the flood victims.
    proof recently posted..Billboard Porn in Northern California?My Profile

    • John Carey July 4, 2011 at 12:21 AM

      So do I proof. I hope they don’t sweep this under the carpet. I told a friend that from this point forward I plan on attending the city council meetings. I want to make sure the tough questions are going to be asked.
      John Carey recently posted..Teeing it up: A Round at the LINKsMy Profile

  • Silverfiddle July 3, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    You are so right. You’ve got to identify the root cause. Politics will get in the way, so I pray that you guys can overcome that as well.
    Silverfiddle recently posted..This Weekend Brought to You by a Long Line of PatriotsMy Profile

  • Mike July 3, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    It’s nice to see how a community pulls together and helps each other out instead of waiting for government to help. In fact, from reading your post, it seems like government was the problem. Prayers are with you and the town folk.
    Mike recently posted..Sunday Reflection: Three things you can do for liberty | Glenn Harlan Reynolds | Columnists | Washington ExaminerMy Profile

    • John Carey July 4, 2011 at 12:27 AM

      Thanks Mike for the thoughts. The people of this community are good people who have decided that the best way to make sure those in need are taken care of is through the acts of the community and not the federal government. I’m very proud of our citizens.
      John Carey recently posted..Teeing it up: A Round at the LINKsMy Profile