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Published April 18, 2012, 10:31 PM

15 Years After Devastating Flood, GF Residents' Memories Still Vivid

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Fifteen years ago today water started pouring over the dikes in Lincoln Park and flooding the low lying neighborhoods in Grand Forks. April 18th marked the first day of the 1997 flood, a day that many still remember so vividly.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Fifteen years ago today water started pouring over the dikes in Lincoln Park and flooding the low lying neighborhoods in Grand Forks. April 18th marked the first day of the 1997 flood, a day that many still remember so vividly.

During the flood Dennis Eggebraaten had two roles. Like many others he had to take care of his family, but the role that took up most of his time was that of a police officer.

Eggebraaten was one of the faces of the flood as he handled the media and informed the public. But on this day in 1997 he experienced something he will never forget.

"It was just amazing the amount of destruction and how much water was around," Eggebraaten recalled.

On April 18, 1997 Dennis Eggebraaten was a lieutenant with the Grand Forks Police Department. As he took a group of media to the neighborhood along Lincoln Drive he realized his house was one of many about to be swallowed up.

"I was a little upset you know, because I really didn't think it would happen," Eggebraaten said.

As people worked to try to reinforce the dikes that Friday, Eggebraaten says they didn't realize their effort would soon be washed away.

"Everything was moving so fast and the water kept on coming and coming. And all of a sudden wow it's taking that away and then pretty soon other areas of the city, and then it was just coming at us and nothing we could do to stop it," Eggebraaten said.

The Red River rose to 52.4 feet that day and kept rising. As the flood got progressively worse over the next four days it crested at 54.35 feet.

"It's kind of a numbing thing when you think back on it. It was just kind of a numbing few days," Eggebraaten recalled

Eggebraaten says as he helped with cleanup efforts he was amazed at how the people of Grand Forks came together.

"It was unbelievable, the spirit on these people in this town. I mean, unbelievable," he said.

And while many chose to move away from Grand Forks, Eggebraaten kept his family here.

"There was no reason to leave. And I haven't found an area of the country I like better," he said.

And that was just the beginning of some very difficult days, weeks and months for thousands in the northern valley.

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