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Published April 20, 2011, 08:54 PM

GF-EGF Residents Breathing Easy Thanks to Permanent Flood Protection

The Red River at Grand Forks and East Grand Forks crested at 49.87 ft. earlier this week. That's the third-highest crest in Grand Forks history. But the city remained safe, thanks to permanent protection put in after the flood of 1997.

The Red River at Grand Forks and East Grand Forks crested at 49.87 ft. earlier this week. That's the third-highest crest in Grand Forks history. But the city remained safe, thanks to permanent protection put in after the flood of 1997.

Officials from both cities say if you didn't know any better, you wouldn't have known that the Red River was flooding in Grand Forks.

The credit goes to the $410 million flood protection system.

"It allows for our lifestyle to go virtually unchanged. About the only real inconvenience is having a bridge or two close," Grand Forks public information officer said.

After the flood of 1997, city, state and federal officials knew permanent flood protection was needed and now they want it to be the model of a working system.

"We want to lend our support to the communities who are still in need of flood protection and show that this can be a model up and down the valley of a real success story," East Grand Forks city administrator Scott Huizenga said.

Unlike other cities along the Red River, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks need virtually no volunteers to fight the flood, as most work is now done by city employees.

"A lot of them were scrambling this year and it was a lot of sandbagging that had to take place, a lot of emergency operations that had to take place. They did some of the kinds of things that we used to have to do regularly in Grand Forks. Now we don't," Dean said.

Both Dean and Huizenga agree that the money for permanent flood protection was well spent.

"There's still a lot of work that goes into doing this every year but, everyday, recognize how fortunate we are to have the system that we do," Huizenga said.

Both officials say the only real worry they get during flood season, now, is the amount of precipitation the area receives.

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