Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Dog sled or boat? April 22, 2013


In less than three weeks you finish your spring semester classes at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

Traveling Interstate 94 on our way to Fargo with hours to go. File photo.

Traveling Interstate 94 on our way to Fargo with hours to go. File photo.

Your dad and I are wondering whether we should come by dog sled or boat to retrieve you and your belongings once we cross the border into North Dakota. What would you suggest?

I’ll admit that, with the continuing snowfall in Fargo, I’m beginning to wonder if your winter will ever end. Kind of like here in southern Minnesota.

The Red River

The placid and narrow Red River photographed from Lindenwood Park in Fargo, June 2012.

And, I’m quite concerned about flooding of the Red River. Everything I read or hear seems to indicate record high water levels.

I viewed a computer simulated graphic of the Red at 42 feet.  (Click here.)  I know NDSU isn’t by the river, but the graphic shows the campus close to an area protected by levees and near areas which could be affected by back up of flood waters through the sewer system. I know, I know, nothing to worry about, right?

I suppose I just have to trust that Fargo officials have the situation under control. I read on the City of Fargo website that Sandbag Central has reopened and that levees will be built to 43 feet, protecting to a river level of 41 feet with two feet of “freeboard,” whatever that means.

The Sertoma Freedom Bridge over the Red River, linking Fargo and Moorhead.

The Sertoma Freedom Bridge over the Red River, linking Lindenwood Park in Fargo and Gooseberry Mound Park in Moorhead. File photo from June 2012.

It’s difficult to imagine, after seeing the Red last summer, how this river could flood into a raging and destructive force. Remember when we walked across that foot bridge over the Red linking Minnesota and North Dakota? I recall not being at all impressed with the size of the river.

The flat landscape near Fargo, on the Minnesota side. File photo.

The flat landscape near Fargo, on the Minnesota side. File photo from February 2012.

But when I consider the flat landscape in and around Fargo, flatter even than the prairie where I grew up (you know, that place you term “the middle of nowhere”), I understand. I compare the flooding of Fargo to spilling a glass of milk onto a table. The milk runs everywhere.

Anyway, when you have time between classes, could you drop me a line and advise?

Dog sled or boat?


P.S.  Does Interstate 94, which spans the Red River between Moorhead and Fargo, remain open if the Red floods?

UPDATE: According to information posted at 4:09 p.m. April 23 on the NDSU website, there are “no foreseen threats to the NDSU campus.” The university has a response team in place and continues to monitor the projected Red River level reports and attend meetings with the Fargo City Commission. Click here to read the flood-related statement posted on the NDSU website.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Dog sled or boat?”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Chris and I were just watching the weather and commenting on the poor Dakotas!!! Last year all we heard about was the drought—-hopefully that won’t be an issue but I imagine the flooding will! You may need a combo sled boat!

  2. That really is a good question! Emily came home on Wed night last week to surprise her sister, Laura for her art show Thurs evening at SCC.
    Who would have thought I would be “white knuckle” driving into Mkto in that horrible rain/snow!! She was suppose to drive right back on Fri AM, but had to wait until noon to get on the road. Emily asked what I was wearing to graduation, May 11th, and I sarcastically declared it better not be my Winter boots and down coat!!! –or hip waiters! Fingers crossed for all those along the Red River.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      And Grand Forks likely faces a worse situation than Fargo. Here’s hoping the flood situation doesn’t get too bad in that region.

  3. Jackie Says:

    “Anyway, when you have time between classes”…… That made me giggle out loud. This post struck me as “hysterical” and I can’t quit laughing. I sooooo detect the humor in your words, but I can also sense the subtle worry as you describe the circumstances in ND. I bet the people there are so on top of the potential flooding issues, Lord knows they’ve had plenty of experience. Hope the “Red” behaves its self and stays in place 🙂

    • Jackie Says:

      I didnt mean to “make light” of the situation,(in my first comment) I hope you know that! I know you will be so relieved when you’re boy is finally home 🙂

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        No worries, Jackie. I absolutely understood your comment and it was well written. Thank you, as always, for your care. Not too long now and we’ll be moving the son to Rochester for the summer.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Jackie, you totally “got” my post. Trying to find a bit of humor in a situation which is anything but. I so feel for the people in the Red River Valley. It cannot be easy living with the flood threat every spring. And you are right, I am wondering how the flood might affect retrieving my boy.

  4. Ha! – like the saying goes “Wait 5 minutes and the weather will change!” One extreme to the next at times too!!! Hoping for great weather to get your son home safely:) Happy Monday

  5. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a winter you have had and so harsh compared with the previous winter that was so mild (that was when we didn’t have a summer). How exciting for your son to be coming home. I do hope your journey to collect him is without incident xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      As I write, snow has been falling here for about five hours. It is wet, heavy snow. Quite beautiful, actually. But the roadways are slick; my husband saw one car in the ditch on his 15-mile drive home from work. Tree branches and power lines are heavy with snow. Honestly, even the hardiest of Minnesotans are weary of winter. Our first snow fell on October 25 and this April has been our third snowiest on record.

      And, yes, we had a lovely, early spring last year, which is why we are really struggling without spring this year.

      I will be happy to have my boy home soon, for a week, until he moves 60 miles away for a summer internship. But 60 miles are way closer than 300 miles, the distance from here to Fargo.

  6. Amy Says:

    I will let you know about that I-94 question!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you. Hopefully the flood situation will be under control by the time we hit the road. I’ve been reading the Fargo Forum every day just to keep up on what’s happening up there.

  7. If it’s not one weather thing it’s another this spring in the Mid West. You have my permission to smack me if I complain about the heat this summer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.