Up Tempo


A river. Forming boundaries. Rivers divided states and provided separated nations. Rivers had an affect on people and their lives.

River banks. Over flowing. The affect on people and their lives. Rivers were always changing. The Army Corps of Engineers was involved in monitoring rivers and their flow here. Because rivers formed boundaries.

My first job out of college brought me to the Red River of the North. The Red River flows to Canada. There is no other river like it. That first spring I heard a lot of talk about dikes and their importance. Every spring, with snow melt slower at the mouth of the river in Canada, where temperatures were always colder, floods were a threat. The dikes were built to keep boundaries.

This week the National Guard was building dikes with the local people. Protecting property, in a land where was no protection. If the dikes burst, most people had no insurance. Those home-owner insurance policy did not provide coverage for the peril of flood damage. If you lived in a flood zone, your local banker knew it. If your banker was still local. And if you did not live near the river, 99% of the people were not going to purchase flood insurance which had to be bought 30 days prior to a flood anyway. And contents could not be covered by the National Flood Insurance program.

Rivers and destinations. The path taken. The people met. The affect on river flow. In all the places I ever lived, of the 5 Midwest states, the general public in North Dakota was the nicest I ever witnessed. I think it was do to the harsh winters that are beyond description. And the weather and the rivers never really change. The affect of river flow. It was, I learned in geography class in the 3rd grade with Mrs. Wolfe, the effect that mountains and streams had on developing character.

This week the Coast Guard was monitoring dikes. With the Red River 22 feet above the normal level. If this was a building that would be more than a 2-story house, miles after mile. The people were holding their breath, after hearts had beat so fast exerting to get the dikes at least a foot about the projected flood level, in the ever changing world.

Was it 2 million sandbags that were protecting the boundaries of the Red River? Hastily built dikes. Those dikes and their hastily sent prayers were all that were left this week. As most of the exposed people waited, with no insurance. For water levels to recede. For spring to come to Manitoba. For life to return to normal. For things that the Coast Guard, the National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers had no control over. People prayed for warmer spring temperatures that were not above average, for calm winds that would not wash out the dikes, that their lives would return to “normal.”

For normal. For what always had constituted peace time. With the National Guard. And the Army Corps of Engineers. So people could go about their work.

March in North Dakota was such a volatile time of year. When death gave way to life.


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