Fargo Braces for Red River Breach

by Emily Holbrook on March 25, 2009 · 2 comments

Thousands of volunteers have been working for days, filling sand bags and erecting makeshift levees in an attempt to stem the flood waters of the Red River, which lies on the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. The continuing snowfall has not helped matters – the area accumulated three more inches of snow last night and the precipitation continues.

Farther north, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Red River has risen 10 feet in three days and is expected to reach 20 feet by late Thursday.

As for North Dakota, eight rivers are currently at flood levels. Even worse, the mammoth Red River is currently 15 feet above flood stage and may surpass the 41.1 foot record set in 1897. Because of this, President Obama declared the state a disaster area.

The U.S. Geological Survey has a Web site devoted to the most significant floods in the U.S. during the 20th century. Because spring is prime time for flooding, a new Web page was launched by the National Weather Service and FEMA to mark National Flood Safety Awareness Week. Alarmingly, a 2008 poll by the Insurance Information Institute found that only 17% of Americans have a flood insurance policy.

A Century of Red River Flooding in Fargo


Fargo, North Dakota - 1897 (Photo: USGS)


Fargo, 1997 (USGS)

Fargo, North Dakota - 1997 (Photo: USGS)


Fargo, North Dakota - 1897 (Photo: USGS)

Fargo, North Dakota - 1897 (Photo: USGS)


Fargo, North Dakota - 1997 (Photo: USGS)

Fargo, North Dakota - 1997 (Photo: USGS)

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Emily Holbrook is the executive managing editor for National Underwriter Life & Health and the former editor of the Risk Management Monitor and Risk Management magazine. You can read more of her writings at EmilyHolbrook.com.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

stepan April 23, 2010 at 11:32 am

I’m a grade 8 student at Blumenort School in Manitoba.
I’m doing a project on the flood of 1997. I asking for permission to use a 1 or 2 of the images from this site.

Jared Wade April 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

No problem, Stepan. They are in the public domain since they were taken by a governmental agency (the United States Geological Survey). Just credit USGS as the owners and use as you wish.

There are some more here from FEMA, if you’re curious.


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