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Forum staff reports, Published March 27 2014

Forum staff members remember record flood of 2009

On the five-year anniversary of the record-setting Fargo-Moorhead crest in 2009, some memories of that year’s flood from staff of The Forum and Forum News Service.

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I’ll never forget sandbagging at a house in north Fargo when all of us just finished. We were sitting in the driveway, spent from all the work, listening to the radio when an announcement came on that the crest was raised and all levees will have to be heightened again. Everybody just kind of sat there in bummed-out silence.

I’ll also never forget the day when our youngest son got in a car with his aunt and cousins to get away from the flood zone to spend time with family members in Edina, Minn. I wondered how long it would be before they could return. And return to what?

Jeff Kolpack, reporter

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I remember getting chills after walking into the Fargodome and looking down on the floor at throng of volunteers, mountains of sand and Bobcats zooming around. It was really the first moment I realized how big and how serious it was.

Heidi Shaffer, features editor

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My folks were in Florida and I was making checks on their house for them that winter and spring. Their home was included in a Code Red evacuation notice that asked people to plug drains, sinks and toilets.

I remember the day I went to their house to accomplish that. After plugging the drains, I stood in their living room and looked out of the picture window. The vital, safe neighborhood I had known most of my life seemed empty and abandoned. Then I saw a military Jeep zoom by. It was the only traffic I had seen that day.

Dave Olson, reporter

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Water, water everywhere. I took a flight over most of eastern North Dakota, and it looked like one of the Great Lakes.

Darren Gibbins, page designer

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I remember sending my 1-year-old daughter away to stay with grandparents, just in case. They came to pick her up fairly quickly after we made the decision, and I rushed home from the office to say goodbye to her. I made the mistake of getting on eastbound Interstate 94. Traffic was backed up for miles, with everyone trying to evacuate, just in case. I remember inching along the overpass above Interstate 29 for probably half an hour.

Sherri Richards, business editor

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I’ll always remember the sandbag walls behind a row of houses along the river in south Moorhead in the middle of the night hours before the crest. They were 7 or 8 feet tall and slowly leaking, the river looming in the dark behind them. If the pumps failed, the homes would be lost in minutes. So the pumps had to be watched constantly. After days of building dikes and then building them higher, it seemed like an amazing feat of will and endurance by those homeowners.

Dave Roepke, news director

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When the flood forced people from their homes and they had to be evacuated to Casselton, more volunteers than were needed showed up to transform the school into a temporary shelter. Just as people passed sandbags hand to hand in Fargo, Casselton residents passed food and other supplies down the line to stock the kitchen for the evacuees.

Track Frank, reporter

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With my wife and two young children staying elsewhere, I walked into our house in an area of south Moorhead where there was a voluntary evacuation and noticed about 2 inches of sewer backup in my basement.

For nearly a week, we ran pumps to keep the backup manageable.

Rob Beer, online editor

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I live in Moorhead in an area that they had evacuated. We, however, did not leave but decided to face what was coming head on. I remember how quiet it was with no traffic moving on the street except when the helicopters flew overhead. It was a little surreal as if we were in a war zone. (I guess we were in a way.)

Cara Akers, receptionist

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I was in bed one night and received a voice recording at 11:30. I was informed that sandbags were coming to my neighborhood, and that I should make my way to the Fourth Street dike. I sandbagged with my neighbors until 4 a.m. that morning in a snowstorm.

Troy Becker, graphic artist