Flood Of Memories

As we begin our 10 year anniversary coverage of the flood of 1997, we want to hear what you remember of the flood. Please post your stories with us and read those of others as we celebrate how far we’ve come.

16 Responses

  1. Kay Syvrud

    Since I live outside the floodplain, we were not physically affected other than that our land along the Buffalo River in the ” bottoms” turned into a very large lake prior to the horror of the Fargo and Grand Forks flooding. I just remember being very emotional over what others were enduring. The coverage of all of it was so superior, we all were very much a part of that historic flood in 1997. The Media did the most fantastic job of covering all of it and sharing it with everyone. It led to a lot of help from those outside the flood plain during, and after the flood. My husband hauled a lot of
    FEMA trailers to EGF and GF in the weeks following. Any many others I know engaged in sandbagging during the flood. I was ill at the time and could only watch it happen.

  2. Jim

    Despite all the loss of property and all the other problems, my memories of the ’97 flood are mostly good. The way people pulled together to help each other, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, the Grand Forks Air Force Base people, the volunteers from UND, and later the people who came from around the country to help Grand Forks and East Grand Forks recover. I’ll never forget any of them.

  3. nodak girl

    I remember going to the Assembly of God Church to pick up some food. A truck arrived from Minneapolis carrying all kinds of wonderful baked bread. Our friends’ owned a nursery and landscaping business which was devastated. They were there 24 hours a day trying to get it back to normal, since their busiest season was coming up within a month. The staff was working hard and had little time to find food. On the bread truck were large loaves of french bread, the perfect food for them, since utensils were hard to come by as well. One of my most vivid flood memories is taking several loaves of bread there and throwing it over the fence to a friend.

  4. Ginny Dullum

    At four in the morning, police were on the street asking everyone to evacuate immediately. Terry and I and the cats went to his parents house in Hillsboro. We didn’t want to alarm them by knocking on the door at that hour, so we called them from their own driveway from our cell phone. Terry had to turn around immediately to get back to work, although he wasn’t even sure he could get back into Grand Forks. I remember standing in my in-laws driveway hugging Terry and crying. When I asked Terry when he’d be back, he had no idea and said “I have to go, this is what I do.” I understood perfectly.

  5. BMF

    I remember standing in the parking lot of the Thompson Fire Department. A large, white semi pulled off the Interstate. The driver opened the back of the truck which was entirely full of canned water. There was a little American flag on his antenna of his truck. When I saw that flag I had a flood moment and burst into tears. It brought home to me all the incredible help we were receiving from around the country, which I’ll never forget.

  6. Terry Dullum

    I’d just as soon not “celebrate” the anniversary of the flood or how “far we’ve come” since it. Maybe some day.

  7. Michael Harvey

    Flood of 1997
    Dear Family, Friends, Angels and Survivors All,
    First, please join us in a prayer of thanks that no
    lives were lost during the Flood of 1997. In spite of the
    fact that 90% of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks were
    damaged by flood water and eleven buildings were burned,
    everyone survived.
    Second, thanks to everyone who helped us with bed and
    board, cash, quilt, “pack mule duty”, prayers and the assur-
    ance that we were in your thoughts and prayers. We can never
    truly express our gratitude.
    The April 7, 1997 ice storm took out the electrical
    power over much of the Red River Valley. We were fortunate
    in that our power was only out for six and a half hours.
    Others had to do without for days. It was during this crisis
    that we began to rely on the radio (KCNN – 1590 AM) for
    information on what was happening beyond our walls. During
    the power outage we searched the house for a battery radio.
    Margo remembered seeing one in a drawer somewhere. It was
    located in a file drawer. With the battery gone we stole the
    smoke alarm battery so we could maintain our lifeline to the
    outside world.
    Blizzard Hannah managed to fill the trench we spent
    days digging through the snow around the house. For those
    who don’t know about snow, it melts into water in warm
    weather and can seep into the basement. Moving the snow away
    from the foundation can help reduce the amount of seepage.
    The snow was like concrete as Hannah packed unusually high
    winds. Some people used axes to break through the crust. We
    finally got a starting place for the snow blower and cleared
    out our driveway and several neighborhood sidewalks. Margo
    knocked the drifts down with a shovel and I moved the snow
    away with the blower.
    Margo got her birthday wish (April 13, 1997). A Big
    battery operated RADIO with CD and Tape. Also a pack of ten
    batteries to keep in going. We didn’t know then how much we
    would be relying on it for sanity.
    The next week was filled with work, sorting out Mom’s
    stuff in the basement and helping with the sandbagging
    efforts. We found jobs at “Sandbag Central” opening the bags
    that were sometimes sealed like a plastic garbage bag. The
    first stint there, I had the privilege of working along side
    a special person. He was 80 years old and a Combat Navy
    veteran. He had been a part of the Navy Shore Detail when
    his troop carrier landed Combat Marines at Tarawa, Saipan,
    Tinian and Iwo Jima. Those of you who are familiar with my
    Uncle Allan’s Combat duty in World War II will recognize
    some names. I asked why he was volunteering at his age. He
    said, “World War II was a crisis for my country. Some of us
    volunteered then to do our bit. This is a crisis for my
    town. I figure I have to do my bit this time too.” Things
    were blurry for a while. Must have been all the sand & dust.
    Between Margo and I we put in eight or nine stints in
    the sandbagging effort. Our last stint in Grand Forks was
    April 18, 1997 helping pass sandbags to protect the lift
    station on the Red River behind Simonson’s Lumber Yard.
    While there, I remarked that someone could make a movie of
    the characters there. One was a tough looking dude in
    motorcycle leathers with a scraggly beard and moustache. I
    thought he would turn out to be a Baptist Preacher in the
    movie. In real life, he turned out to be a Lutheran Minister
    A high light of the sandbagging was a visit by Our Mayor,
    Pat Owens on a National Guard five ton truck. She was
    accompanied by news people and other officials. We only saw
    Pat, the rest faded into the background. Little did we know
    as we walked back to our car parked near St. Michael’s
    Church that the ground we walked on would soon be covered
    with Flood Water.
    Friday night, April 18, 1997 Margo was getting
    increasingly nervous about the rising crest of the Red River
    It jumped from 49 feet to 50, 51, 52 and then maybe 53 feet.
    Lynn Staus was on the radio and stated that he personally
    contacted the weather bureau river prediction headquarters
    and demanded some answers. They startled him with a range of
    52 to 55 feet. We only had protection to 53 feet. The winds,
    waves and ice made that seem pitifully low. Margo, wisely,
    kept after me to help her bring things up out of the base-
    ment. I, foolishly, kept reassuring her that we would only
    get an inch or two of seepage. After all the City Engineer
    said the English Coulee Diversion was working as advertised
    and we would not have a repeat of the 1979 flood.
    Saturday morning as I slept sitting up on the couch,
    the dike on Lincoln Drive began to give way. Margo shook me
    awake and “suggested” that we pack up and evacuate. Our
    Mayor, Pat Owens (Please stand at attention when her name is
    mentioned) had requested that the citizens of Grand Forks
    evacuate. Some areas were being mandatorily evacuated. This
    has to be a tough decision for any official to make.
    The Grand Forks Air Force Base had made space for
    people who were leaving Grand Forks. People living in East
    Grand Forks were evacuated to Crookston, MN. At the hangar,
    we signed in and were assigned to Bay Two. We picked out two
    cots and brought in our stuff. Sleeping bags, pillows, not
    nearly enough clothes, and our folding stools. The Salvation
    Army had a food center set up on one side of the hangar. We
    got some sandwiches and bottled water and went to the car.
    The car had a RADIO. We pushed the seats back and settled in
    to survey the situation. Non potable water for hand washing,
    sandwiches and hot “Tomato Stuff” to eat, Port-A-Potties for
    bathrooms, canvas cots and 1800 of our closest, most
    intimate friends.
    The next days and four nights were spent, eating,
    sleeping, walking all over the place, sitting in the car,
    listening to KCNN, watching the six and ten o’clock news on
    channel 8 (WDAZ), reading the Grand Forks Herald (Free),
    calling everyone to let them know we were warm, dry and in
    love with each other and slowly going nuts.
    While there we were visited by President Clinton. After
    standing in the sun for hours, being scanned with a metal
    detector and waiting for hours in a hot hangar, he arrived.
    No disrespect to the President, two Governors, Senators,
    Congressmen and other high muckety-mucks, but Our Mayor, Pat
    Owens was the only TRUE LEADER on the Dais. The President of
    the United States told me he would, “be with me every step
    of the way.” Well, I have gone up and down our basement
    steps hundreds of time since then and haven’t seen him once.
    Our Mayor, Pat Owens, on the other hand, is carried in the
    hearts and prayers of every resident of Grand Forks, no
    matter where we go or how many steps we climb.
    That evening we called Uncle Allan and Aunt Deloris
    Mathison and asked if we could seek refuge in their home for
    a few days. As Grandma Mathison said, “When you have
    troubles, God and Family will always be there to help.” We
    have tested these words many times since. Grandma knew what
    she was talking about. The drive to Walhalla was detoured as
    the Interstate Highway 29 was under water in many places and
    closed to traffic. At the corner of Highway Two and Highway
    32 we finally turned North. I couldn’t pass that corner
    without recounting the time that Mom and I met James & Alma
    Mathison there. Both cars arrived at the exact same time,
    one hour early. (Those who knew Mom and James can
    understand.) All along the way North we marveled at the
    amount of water in fields and ditches. And the amount of
    unmelted snow. God help Drayton and points North. More water
    was coming.
    As we neared Walhalla, the reception of KCNN was
    getting spotty. Stopping a ways up the hill from Allan and
    Deloris’s driveway was the “magic spot”. We could maintain
    our connection with Scott Hennon and the KCNN crew. Never
    thought I would be answering phones in that same station.
    The sight of “The Marine” standing in his doorway,
    beckoning us in to home, shelter, food and Family made
    things blurry for a while. Dang dust follows you everywhere.
    Deloris greeted us with hugs, food and the best offer of the
    day. “Would you like to take a shower?”
    The days in Walhalla were spent eating “real Food”,
    in “real beds”, recovering a little and talking to “real
    Family”. Our cousin Brian Mathison (Allan and Deloris’s son)
    was in charge of the sandbagging effort for Walhalla so I
    had to spend a day there. Wanted to make sure they were
    doing it right. As everywhere, the bulk of the work was
    being done by high school kids and women. Imagine my chagrin
    when a school days friend pulled up in his pickup & refused
    my challenge to show these youngsters how the “old men”
    could work. Made me so mad I worked harder and longer than
    planned to make up for his sloth.
    We also visited with Anita Mathison and Kids, Corliss
    Mathison and Kids, Aunt Alma Mathison, Betty Mathison, Phil
    Longtin and other friends and family
    Our Mayor, Pat Owens, said we could return to our home
    for four hours. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was time
    to find out how bad it was. Betty was also heading for Grand
    Forks and asked us to stay with her and Merle. From Family
    home to Family home. We are blessed. I didn’t want to tell
    Betty that we wanted to go in convoy because we had two flat
    tires in the trunk. She accepted the excuse that we might
    not be able to find her home. We dragged our “stuff” into
    their spare bedroom and went off to face our share of the
    devastation. In the 1979 flood we had three and a half feet
    in the basement. With the English Coulee Diversion working
    so well, we hoped for even less water. HA!
    Seven and a half feet of dirty, slimy, stinky water
    from the Red River were waiting for us. But not a drop of
    English Coulee water. Somehow that didn’t make us feel any
    better. We gathered up more clothes (not enough) and other
    treasures we had overlooked. Back to what would be our home
    for nearly three weeks. Betty and Merle were lifesavers. A
    refuge of sanity in a river of madness. Hopefully, they and
    the many others who helped us, will never be in a position
    to feel the gratitude we have for them, towards others.
    We invested in a 12 volt emergency sump pump. Using our
    battery cables and a set borrowed from Merle, I pumped out
    the basement at the agonizingly slow rate of eight inches a
    day. It seemed that the dang water would evaporate faster
    than that. Merle’s son-in-law, Lloyd Lafferty lent me a
    gasoline powered pump. It not only pumped out the last three
    feet in half a day but I also was able to help our neighbor,
    Roger Thompson pump out the last of his water.
    While I was pumping, Margo was back at work at JC
    Penney. They did not have any water damage. It made for
    unusual days. Take Margo to work, pump water, pick up Margo
    from work, show Margo the progress (hard to see some days)
    and flee to refuge with Merle and Betty.
    One day I called Gary Johnson, a friend and colleague,
    and learned that Red Lake County people were trying to get
    in contact with me. He had heard of their search on KCNN. I
    called and learned that they had a couple of questions on
    the Computer Programs I wrote for the County. They were
    simple problems but with no water at Merle and Betty’s, the
    thought of a hot shower was overwhelming. I decided that the
    problems would best be solved in person. Didn’t want to
    leave Margo out, so I told them that I needed to bring my
    chief assistant (Margo) and we were to smelly to be fit
    company. Fern Brevik and everyone else offered the use of
    their homes for a much needed shower. The problems were
    solved in minutes, the showers took longer.
    Hark, is that the cavalry charge I hear on the horizon?
    No, it is more family coming to the rescue. Merle’s son,
    Jeff Mathison and Cousin Arden Mathison come from Fargo and
    Bismarck. No more lonely, desolate days of fighting alone.
    Reinforcements have arrived. With few words, they start
    hauling things up the stairs and out to the berm. Washer,
    Dryer, Freezer and lots of destroyed possessions. Just
    thinking about it makes things blurry. Dust again, I guess.
    No tears for the things. Just gratitude for a family that
    just helps and helps and helps and hugs.
    After a while, everyone notices that Arden is keeping
    the debris pile on the berm neat and orderly. We kid him a
    little, but he soon sets everyone straight. Grandpa John
    Mathison and Arden’s Dad, James Mathison, taught him that
    when a man stacks anything, he stacks it neat. Be it hay or
    bales or manure or debris, the standards have been set and
    each generation owes it to those who taught, to follow the
    lessons and meet the standards. Arden, John and James are
    proud. In fact, your pile of debris was officially the
    neatest in all of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. I can
    prove it! A TV crew came by one day and asked me for an
    interview. Everyone knows how reluctant I am to talk, but I
    decided to buck my normal reticence and give them an inter¬
    view. While waiting for the camera man to set up, I
    couldn’t help but brag about my Cousin and his neat pile.
    Both the TV lady and the Camera Man agreed that they noticed
    the neatness of the pile and haven’t seen any others that
    come even close. (If you don’t believe me, I have a tape of
    the interview.)
    Jeff went on to help his sister, Debbie and her husband
    Lloyd clean out their basement. Arden and I slogged on. When
    we were growing up, people would remark that Arden and I
    played well together, but didn’t talk much. My Mom said we
    just absorbed each other through osmosis and didn’t need to
    talk. Those hours and days of tearing down and hauling out
    were much the same. Not much talk. Two grown men happy to be
    together again. Working in harmony. It was like being eleven
    years old all over again. A chance to break things and not
    get scolded!
    Eventually we broke the back of the project. The stuff
    was gone, the walls were down to studs, time for Arden to
    leave. As great as it was to see him come, it was harder to
    see him go. We could handle the rest of the cleanup by our-
    selves. I didn’t need Arden’s help anymore, but I missed his
    presence. Many thanks, old friend.
    Grand Forks and East Grand Forks have an Angel. A
    gracious lady was moved by the plight and the spirit of our
    people. She asked that Our Mayors, Pat Owens and Lynn Staus
    distribute $2,000.00 checks to the people most in need. This
    Angel has offered the world an example of kindness and
    concern that has never been seen before. We will always
    remember her and the second Angel in our prayers. Thank you
    Angel and may God bless you and keep you.
    Without electricity we were stymied in doing some of
    the cleanup. Again the Cavalry came over the rise in a cloud
    of dust. This time the dust was from a beautiful red pickup
    truck. Justin and his wife Jennifer Haas arrived with a
    truck load of goodies. Electrical generator, power washer,
    camp stove, lantern, protective gear, ceramic electric
    heater, food, water and bleach. Staying only eleven and a
    half hours, they all to soon rode off. Now we were ready to
    kick some butt. Our house resembled the old TV series,
    “Green Acres”. Only we did not have to climb a power pole to
    change the extension cords. It is an awesome and humbling
    experience to be rescued by your son. This time he was the
    one holding out a helping hand and giving a reassuring hug.
    Thank you, Son and Daughter.
    Soon the studs were hammered from the walls. Those
    cement nails really hold! I will have to grind them off as
    they can not be pulled out. The last remaining obstacle was
    the hot water heater. I had no idea of how to get it
    detached and hauled out. Down to a screwdriver, pair of
    pliers, vice grip and Mom’s old hammer, I was really stuck.
    My prayer that day was, “Good Lord, how am I going to get
    this thing out?” Going up for a breath of fresh air, my
    prayer was answered. The neighbor lady told me that Steve
    Sande was in town and looking for me. After a few phone
    calls, and a trip to Steve’s son’s house, Steve was on the
    phone asking how he could help me. In minutes, Steve and his
    plumbing tools were confronting the water heater. A few
    quick twists of his pipe cutter and the noxious machine was
    strapped to his appliance dolly and on the way up the
    stairs, headed for the berm. The old valve proved defective.
    Not only that, it refused to come off. When Steve and I were
    in high school, Steve’s motto was, “If it don’t fit, don’t
    force it, get a bigger hammer.” Sure enough, out came the
    hammer. Bang, bang, BANG. The valve came off. I think it was
    glad to avoid a further beating! First Arden took me back to
    being eleven years old, then Steve brought me back to High
    School. Many thanks, old friend.
    Our days are still filled with work, cleaning up,
    fighting FEMA, (I am from the government and I am here to
    help you.) pleading with electricians, plumbers, furnace men
    loving each other and being grateful. No lives were lost.
    Our family is as it was meant to be, loving, helping and
    Many thousand thanks to all, Mike and Margo

  8. Lana Weisgram

    My now husband and I were seniors in high school in Grand Forks in 1997. We were also expecting our first child. Our due date was April 28, 1997. Obviously we did not have our baby at Altru in Grand Forks with our own doctor as planned. We found a hotel in Fargo that was close to the Dakota Heartland hospital and stayed there until I went into labor on my due date and our son was born the next day, April 29, 1997. It was a scary, emotional time. I was 18, my husband was 17, his parents had evacuated to Bismarck, mine evacuated to Brainerd, MN, and we had just given birth to our first baby! But, he was healthy, and we were alive and in this time of disaster we had a reason for celebration. We finally got to go home to GF around May 2nd or 3rd, and graduated from RRHS a few weeks later. Our son, Sidney, will turn 10 years old a week from Sunday. He is truely my flood baby and I remember the flood on every birthday and probably will for every birthday to come. That’s my flood story.

  9. Curt Stofferahn

    My Christmas 1997 Letter

    December 1997

    Dear Friends and Family,

    What a year! I could not begin to describe what a year this has been for me as a survivor of the Great Grand Forks Flood of 1997, so I thought I would give you a brief synopsis of the year.

    January through March: Endured eight blizzards, shoveled record snowfall, and lost ten days of school due to canceled classes because of impassable streets.

    April: Prepared for a 51 foot flood by sandbagging and dike walking together with friends, neighbors and strangers for two weeks in my neighborhood including a very intense week of 20 hour days of flood fighting; lost the flood fight battle to a once in 200 year flood of 54 feet above flood stage that overwhelmed all levies and inundated 85 percent of the city; fled the city along with all the other residents under emergency evacuation orders; watched in horror as a fire in the midst of the flood destroyed 11 buildings downtown; took up temporary residence for two weeks with my parents while being evacuated.

    May through August: Worked for three months for the US Congressman from North Dakota on flood relief and served as his representative to the City Council and the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Recovery; attended innumerable meetings of the city council and various subcommittee; lived with my brother and his family in Fargo for two months while commuting daily to Grand Forks; drank bottled water and learned porta potty ettitque while Grand Forks was without potable water or public sanitary facilities for three weeks; discovered that I had 18 inches of flood water on my first floor and lost all my furniture; carried my destroyed furniture and possessions out of my house and unceremoniously dumped them the curb to be picked by trash haulers; learned a whole new vocabulary of “flood speak”; argued with federal agencies over the extent of flood damage to my house; hired contractors to tear out the wallboard and flooring and got estimates to repair my house; learned that my house was 55 percent damaged and not able to be repaired because it lies in the flood plain; lived in a travel trailer on the lot of my house for two months; made arrangements to sell my house to the city and arrived at “fair market value”; started an emergency ”flood” drive among alumni to repair the flood damaged chapter house of the fraternity of which I am the advisor.
    September through December: Moved into and adjusted to life in a government-provided “manufactured house” while still making mortgage payments on my damaged house; waiting for the city to close the sale on my house; waiting for the city to sell me one of the new houses it is building out of the flood plain for the 650 households that lost their houses in the flood; drafted to serve on a cooperative housing steering committee to build affordable housing for flood displaced homeowners; working with the flood abatement task force to advocate for a flood diversion channel; feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from flood, recovery, and teaching; launched a feasibility study for a major capital campaign to raise funds to build a new fraternity chapter house; looking forward to the end of the semester so I can collapse and relax, praying for NO snow and a warm winter.

    Despite all the loss, suffering, hardship, and tragedy that this flood created for everyone in Grand Forks, I have been surprised by the generosity of strangers from across the country who have donated their time, money, and supplies; by the endurance, patience, and strength of everyone as we struggle with the recovery; by the hope that sustains us in our efforts to make Grand Forks a much better community; and by the concern and support of friends and family.

    Curt Stofferahn

  10. Terry Dullum

    Most of what I remember of the flood is watching it happen from a distance on television. I remember seeing Grand Forks Mayor Pat Owens looking tired and yet at the same time looking strong and resolved on national television. It was difficult at the time to take it all in, the magnitude of the flood. Later seeing President Bill Clinton, House Speaker Newt Gingrich tour the area and others. And then volunteers from all over come to Grand Forks to help clean up and rebuild.

  11. Carla Dahley

    I still mourn the loss of our house in Central Park. After the flood receded, we gutted out the main level and installed ALL NEW: electrical wiring, air ducts, furnace, foam insultation, new floors, doors, windows, wallpaper, etc., it was our dream home to live and raise our family in. We worked tremenduously hard (I was pregnant with our 1st child) to restore our home. This was the 2nd flood that this house sustained and it was not going down. Our home was sitting on the property that Captain Alexander Griggs once owned (the Captain of the Riverboat Selkirk that once went up and down the banks of the mighty Red River). Historically, it was built in 1980 and we found many “treasures” when gutting the walls and windows–many we still have at our new location. We were saddened to have a generic letter sent to us and our neighbors from the GF City Councel/Planning and Zoning. It had a little red X on our property, which meant our refirbished house was going to be torn down for the dike to go through. How could this be? My extensive research of GF planning, contacting city officials did not list our home for destruction–ours was NOT on the list. We had the green light to go ahead and remodel! My husband had a business attached to our home also for which we took out a business loan–“stay in your current property for 5 years and the loan was forgiven”. What a great incentive–we went for it. We also took out $26,000 in additional loans from SBA to remodel our cozy home. We sold personal items and spent the flood insurance money to remodel….
    Guess what? We got bought out. We were told to leave or have ’eminate domain’ take effect is what the letter from the GF city attorney read. Our appraisal of $93,000 on our cozy home came to a settlement of $67,000 from the City of GF. Our SBA loan, we are still paying it back. The business loan, we are still paying it back, though we did not voluntarily leave the premises–we were forced to leave. This memory is much like one of a cheating wife/husband–one can forgive but you can never forget what happened and how it impacts your life, the memory does not wash away. We will celebrate the flood of 1997 when our SBA loan and the business loan the GF Urban Development is paid off in full. We moved out of GF–30 miles away. Out of the flood plain. Many people still remember me from the WDAZ TV broadcast which showed my house at 522 South 4th Street being torn down–tears streamed down my face as I held my little daughter close to me. I was also interviewed in my home November 1997 which showed the bare walls inside our home in the midst of remodeling, the determination to have a good Christmas in our home. At present, there is no dike on the property, only a construction trailer sitting on top of where our lovely house once sat. Imagine that.

  12. Terry Dullum

    I remember going into work at WDAZ on a Thursday morning very early and being met by the general manager. I knew that if the general manager had beaten me work at 5 a.m., SOMETHING was going on.

    Some of us spent the first few days of the flood at the station broadcasting 24/7. On Sunday evening I finally was able to take a break and leave the building.

    I think I only realized the magnitude of the flood when I counted eleven television satellite trucks lined up on Highway 81 on the south edge of town. In some strange way I knew then that the whole world was watching and that somehow Grand Forks and East Grand Forks would get the help they needed, which is about what happened.

  13. kit

    I know a lot of people who have had a hard time this week with all the flood related events. The flood was very intense and all the hoopla has dredged up a lot of emotions that are hard for many to deal with. I hope we can now let go of the flood and not have to have “celebrations ” every 10 years. I realize this is an important part of Grand Forks history but it’s time to put it to rest for now.

  14. Robert Belanus

    I was Regional Manager of the Devils Lake Job Service at the time of the flood. Our lobby was full of flood victims wanting to file for disaster unemployment. It was standing room only. I brought in extra people from area offices that weren’t impacted just to try our best to serve the victims. A typical day started at 7:00 am and ended at 7:00 pm.

    Devils Lake was full of people. Lake Region State College suspended classes for the semester to house victims and also set up a place for them to get donated clothing and other items to help them. Camp Grafton north of Devils Lake was also full of people, and many Devils Lake citizens including my family and other Job Service staff housed people in their homes. The staff also worked at the disaster center at the college.

    I received a call from Bobby Noblin, a displaced staff member from the Grand Forks office. He suggested that we open a satelite office in Larimore to help the victims that stayed at the air base and nearby towns. I was able to rent space at the senior citizens center. I lined up computers, copier, internet service, etc. for the Larimore office. Susan Houser, also a Grand Forks Job Service employee was able to get some staff to work at the new office. I also dispatched some of our overworked staff to Larimore to help with the enormous work load. As I was arranging things in Larimore, I overheard two city leaders discussing the fact that they always wanted Larimore to be the county seat. One said, “Looks like we finally made it.”

    The Grafton Job Service office was also a major flood victim impact area and really needed extra help. I was able to arrange for staff from the Dickinson and Williston offices to help them.

    We also knew that there were flood victims in Langdon, Walhalla, Cavalier, and Lakota. We went to work setting up self help centers so victims could get the information and forms to file for disaster unemployment by mail. These centers were heavily used and, from what I heard, very appreciated.

    We did everything we could possibly think of to help. The ironic part of the whole thing is, we had staff members in our office whose lives were disrupted because of our own flooding Devils Lake. We were faced with worries about the dike breaking, staff that were in the midst of moving their homes off the lake, and living in the termoil that the flooding lake caused. They were able to put all that aside and put all thier effort into helping their fellow citizens whose circumstances were worse.

    Bob Belanus

  15. greenglass4

    My favorite memory : sleeping one night at the airbase hotel. Also a shower at Midway School. Oh yes sleeping in my car after 7 pm curfew. Have photo of downtown TV Store hosing off new freezers and refridges, wonder if they sold these as new at new store on 32nd St. ? greenglass4.

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