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Michelle Turnberg, Published March 24 2012

Turnberg: Spring is extra nice with no flooding

We’ve spent much of this past week outdoors going for walks, bike rides and climbing trees.

My kids are able to be outside in shorts; I’ve cleaned the garage and even taken a nap in sunny 70 degree weather.

It’s hard to believe a year ago the city was distributing 3 million sandbags around Fargo.

We all know the drill: Fill the sandbags, deliver the sandbags, stack the sandbags and remove the sandbags. Kids have been let out of school to help fight the flood, businesses are closed and media stays on the air around the clock to alert people of the latest emergencies, dike failures and evacuations.

How great does it feel to not be sandbagging?

It was beginning to feel like an annual rite of passage. Enjoy fall, prepare for months of blizzards and then prepare for the inevitable onslaught of water. We considered and discussed flood insurance and ring dikes around our neighborhoods.

This year, in contrast, is marvelous.

Farmers are already in the fields, the elementary playgrounds aren’t giant craters, the stores are open and the National Guard hasn’t been called out.

I remember working at Channel 4 during the 1996-97 flood and getting picked up in the company suburban and driving on sidewalks to get us to work during countless blizzards. We covered stories by canoeing through the streets in south Fargo and helped the CBS evening news crews find their way around town.

I remember sitting on the news set as our tower fell in an ice storm and in the following days watching downtown Grand Forks burn. It was a winter and spring more suited for a movie script.

I was in Grand Forks reporting the day residents were let back into their homes. The city smelled rotten, like a refrigerator just opened after it had lost power for about a week. We followed people to their homes not knowing what they would find.

My photographer and I walked with a young family into their beautiful new home only to find their entire lower level filled with water, sewage and a floating water heater. I imagine a similar scenario was happening in countless homes that day. It was horrible and it made you wonder if the city would ever recover.

Grand Forks has recovered; a good reminder that there are better days ahead.

This spring is one we’ve been waiting for.

Until we get permanent flood protection in Fargo, we will more than likely relive those wet and scary springs again. But for now get out the clubs, dust off the grill and prepare the gardens because this spring is one for which we can be grateful.

Michelle Turnberg writes a weekly column for SheSays.