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Monday, March 12, 2007

Flood of '97 Series: Introduction

The 10-year anniversary of the devastating flood that inundated communities up and down the Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota is fast approaching. In the coming days and weeks, expect to see quite a few entries commemorating this important anniversary. I am currently doing major research in hopes of presenting the most complete, thorough view possible.

Why am I doing this? The mission is really three-fold. First, it involves no intentional insensitivity or desire to dramatize the devastation inflicted on literally thousands and thousands of people. On the contrary, I think the story of the flood of 1997 is an uplifting one that shows how people, faced with adversity, can come together and remain determined to rebuild their community. Grand Forks and, arguably to a larger extent, East Grand Forks could have practically disappeared from maps after 1997. Plummeting population figures and scarce economic renewal could have left the cities as shells of their former selves. However, 10 years on, this has not happened. Grand Forks has more people now than before the flood, and new development continues at a brisk rate.

Secondly, I feel the 10th anniversary of the flood will be one of the most important ones. 10 years is recent enough that those who lived through the experience still have vivid and poignant memories. On the other hand, 10 years is also sufficient enough to allow for reflection and a look back at all that has been accomplished during the time span.

Lastly, a lot of my readers were quite young when the flood happened. Unless they experienced it first-hand or had family members who did, they probably don’t remember that much. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide some sort of historical record.

The first entry regarding the flood will come in a few days; it will discuss how the moist autumn and relentless winter preceding the flood combined to set the stage for destruction in the spring.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of Mitch Wahlsten and the participants
Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001