It’s frustrating to some – to be ready for a flood response, ready at a moment’s notice, to receive the call – but to be stuck waiting… waiting… waiting… The water is there, saturating the ground, and filling the river. The water is there in sheets of ice and covering the ground in piles of snow that have not yet melted. The citizens and city officials of the Fargo / Moorhead area are anxious to do something. As Tom Petty sings, “the waiting is the hardest part.”
Further exacerbating the situation is the continued snow and rain. Below average temperatures and higher than average levels of precipitation means that there is more – much more – water to move. The Red River is currently at 19 feet and projections see it going as high as 40 – 41 feet.
Two years ago the river crested at the record level of 40.8 feet.
Much has been done proactively to protect the cities. Permanent earthen dikes have been built, temporary dikes have been constructed. 4.8 million sandbags have been filled.
Million! They’re ready for the flood.
But they’re stuck in a waiting mode. Deployment of the sandbags will begin when the river reaches a critical stage – based on water level and temperatures. A long slow melt would be great – warm temperatures during the day and cooler temps at night would allow the snowmelt and rainfall to flow down river in a manageable flow. But the more days spent waiting for the river to crest, the more likely it is that temperatures will rise and the combined waters will flood the river.
Till then, you take it on faith, you take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part.
The Waiting – Tom Petty, 1981