41.5 feet

That’s the flood level of my home. 41.5 feet.

If the math is right, the upcoming flood ..

Ok, here’s the deal. You know it’s going to snow in the winter. We know it’s going to flood. This isn’t your flash flood prediction for two months from now … no one can really ever predict that with accuracy, but this spring flood business in Fargo-Moorhead and the surrounding region of the Red River Valley, well they do.

They, meaning the National Weather Service and other government agencies, who plug snow and moisture data into these computer dealio-boppers and out spits information on how high the water will get. Most times its fairly accurate (unless you ask Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker – he seems to always like lower numbers), and we sort of sit and wait until it gets somewhat warm enough to start sandbagging.

I was driving underneath the Main Avenue Bridge tonight and the 14.4-foot clearance sign on the railroad bridge caught my eye. In fact, that whole road that I travel 2,000 times a year will soon be filled with about that much water.

Last year, as I’ve documented on this blog before, was a complete mess. We’re fortunate that we didn’t lose our home or are having our home bought out, and I feel for those that did.

We spent the greater part of 2009 repairing and improving our basement after last year’s 40.86 level that caused the storm sewers to back up in our neck of the woods. Now, this year brings something like a 25 percent chance that the Red will be higher, and a greater possibility that if sandbags and other barriers can’t hold back the river, it could be high enough to spill over and affect hundreds and hundreds of homes.

People from out of town, when I tell them I live no more than 500 yards from the river, are amazed that I haven’t moved the heck out of here. Well, easier said than done. The deal is, unless we get caught on the wrong side of a manmade dike (which we didn’t last year, but it’s fairly close), if my neighborhood goes, I’m guessing most of the F-M is going as well.

I’m not wishing that on anyone, but 41.5 feet is reasonably (in my mind, I guess) a fairly high elevation for F-M. I heard someone say today that he’s up in north Fargo at 44 feet, and there’s no doubt some parts are much higher, but at 41.5 feet, my house for the most part is sitting much better off than some parts due west on the Fargo side.

That doesn’t necessarily mean a breach in Moorhead won’t happen and the protected Fargoans remain dry, but the odds of a major catastrophe happening probably increase as the river levels go up.

I’m incredibly thankful of the thousands of volunteers who traveled here last year and – for nothing or a slice or two of pizza – helped us stay safe.

The long-term problem is unless a permanent flood solution comes soon, pizza might not be enough. Those folks who traveled here from 2 or 3 or more states away just might wind up saying "I’m not going to help you every year."