Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Flozzard anyone?

What do you call a cross between a blizzard and a flood?  Flozzard works for me.  I've been trying to get a few pictures of the current state of things, but its all white with some branches showing in between.  We're hunkered in for the time being.

Of course the plot has thickened a bit again.  I "know before I know" at times, to borrow from the author Elizabeth Berg.  When I saw that I had missed three calls from my mom yesterday I knew it was one of two things.  Either she was going to tell me the basement had flooded, or dad was sick.  It turns out that my dad was sick.  Between phone calls from my brother and I we managed to light a sufficient enough fire under mom to take my dad in.  I am always relieved to be validated in my thinking when it comes to the health of my parents.  The emergency doctors told my mom they were very happy she had brought my dad in, knowing it was a strain on her to do so.  But his o2 sats were at 70 on 3 liters, and that is not moving much air at all.  He also has fluid built up around his heart again and his pulse was weak.  But here is where I see some of the grace of god.  Even though the hospital is not taking patients technically, they did take my dad.  And he is getting a lot of individual attention.  Mom found a hotel room right across the street and Dr. See promised he had some "pull" and in an empty hospital he would russle up a bed for her if need be.  Mom also gets a security escort whenever she moves about the hospital.  She even got a special escort of a "handsome" young man who insisted on holding her arm as she walked to her car in the ramp.  So while I worry about how they are, really they are probably in the best of care for their current situation.  

So we've managed to find a few activities for the boys to do.  We got to see Monsters vs. Aliens on Saturday and the boys gave it the thumbs up.  And we went bowling yesterday.  Although it wasn't rockin bowling or cosmic bowling, it was "expensive" bowling.  So 40 dollars later we came home and the boys devised their own version of bowling.  Left to their own devices and tired of constantly bickering they worked together and devised a system using water bottles and an orange soft baby ball.  They actually played most of this morning.  

The project Nolan is probably the most proud of is the pillow case he helped Grandma Carole sew.  He chose his material and helped cut quilt square.  He helped iron and piece it together.  He is so proud of it and slept with it last night!  

Btw, while its a less than stellar photo, guess who won the first game of bowling? I had to take a picture of the scores for posterity as mommy is not known for her bowling scores, whereas daddy usually is. Anybody that has a ball with their name on it typically is not threatened by me.

Thanks everyone for your continued presence and prayers! Its helping. Its getting us through and we're grateful. And if you are so inclined, could you say an extra prayer for dad tonight? I'd be so honored for you to send some positive vibes his way.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

From Floods to Blizzards

Thanks to David Samson of the Fargo Forum, I was pleasantly surprised to see our rental house appear on the pages of the newspaper yesterday (third house in from the end of the block,  just past the big tree.)  The picture is intended to show the storm drains backing up into the streets and it just so happens to have occurred on the avenue next to our affectionately named "blue" house.  It too has been evacuated.  I miss being able to lay eyes on the surrounding condition of things.  I'm on the outside looking in and it has me feeling displaced.  Well that and a little bit of water :)

But Rick came to spend a little time with us today and I am hoping he can help the boys feel some normalcy. Grandpa and Grandma are bending over backwards to accommodate all of us and we are so grateful for the hospitality. But the rhythm of our days is so warped it sure has the boys feeling out of sorts. Even I woke up to the sound of a young boy trying to get down from his bunk bed in time to go to the bathroom and sat up too quickly forgetting I was on the bottom bed.  I'm sporting a new goose egg on the side of my head.   We are hearing the "I just want to go home" cry more often now and then the "what can I do cry" is ever more prevalent.  And I am hearing from my fellow evacuees, their children are much the same way. Its difficult when moms and dads don't have the ready answers.

The news on the water level in the Red River is actually encouraging as it continues to slowly drop. But their is a speed bump along the way. A Blizzard with the potential of 8-14 inches of snow.  Surprisingly,  the snow is not the biggest concern as it has less water content than rain... but the wind associated with it could wreak havoc on our "no wake zone" on the river. It also means the streets will be a challenge to drive on and if there are dike breachs it may take some time for responders to get to them. But I have faith. You have to expect a number of breachs and leaks and unforeseen events. And so far they have all been effectively dealt with. So regardless the obstacle, I am certain the members of our well-trained coast guard and national guard will prevail in the end.

These videos have been circulating on Youtube and this is #8 in a series being done by Lee Hoedel.  My internet connection makes  it seem  choppy  so I haven't been able to view them in entirety,  but  I saw the first 3 at home and was really moved by them .  And in the absence of any actual pictures, I am just happy to have something to post, because between the dog throwing up and the needs of the kids, I'm a little low on creative juice.   

We also wanted to wish Rick's younger brother, Matt, a Happy Birthday today!   We are all thinking of you, Matt, and hope you have a great day!  

Thanks for the continued support.  I welcome any ideas you may have for activities for cooped up boys in a lake cabin up north :)   

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Still Waters...

Rick managed to get downtown Moorhead this afternoon and took these photos. I just find it so hard to comprehend the volume of water contained here. I see the pictures and my mouth hangs open and its hard for my eyes to take it all in. I wish I had easy access to a "before" photo to compare for you. But I can just tell you typically you can stand on this bridge and the water is way, way below you.

Its clear to me we've all been affected. Even Dakota sought refuge with an unlikely ally. Normally this would be the last little wild boy she would choose to curl up with.

But for now, we are surrounded by nature's beauty. By stillness. Peace. Calm. At least, all we have to do is STEP outside the house and this is what is at our fingertips. The boys are challenging some of the "quiet" and "calm" but that is normal on any given day. I took the photos below the day we arrived and they were sheer joy to my battle weary soul. And the last photo is one my father-in-law took of an owl residing in one of his trees. It isn't hard to see where Rick gets his photographic eye from.

The news on the river is that it may have crested and gradually declined although this is only a preliminary report. With the forecast for more precipitation Monday or Tuesday and more water flowing from the south, all reports are cautious in proclaiming anything concrete on whether or not this is a stable condition.

I've been asked this question a lot lately... "What can I do for you?" I'm at a loss as to know how to respond. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such caring and compassionate people who are always thinking of others. I also feel extremely blessed to have all of my needs met right now. Our house is still dry, we are comfortable and warm and safe. And most importantly we are learning that "home" is really where your family is. It isn't about the four walls, the roof and the floor, its all the intangibles that make a home. "Together" is a home.

So in a sense I feel like I have joined you. I'm on the outside looking in. I itch to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty again. There are still too many people that are not dry, safe or comfortable. Friends are reporting 24 hour dike watches and at homes with no power and no running water to the house, only the constant lapping water at their front door. I can only imagine the fear they stare down every day, the exhaustion on a magnitude that I don't know that I could endure if it were me and perhaps even loneliness if you've remained at your house and sent your family on to safety. So will you continue to do this with me? Will you continue to keep those that are suffering in your hearts, your thoughts and prayers? Pray for stamina and alertness for those on watch. Pray for endurance and guidance for our leaders. And for those who have suffered losses of a portion or an entire home, pray for comfort and courage to rebuild.

And for all of us parents with yet another whole week of school being cancelled, pray for mommy's and daddy's to stay patient, loving and supportive for the upheaval our kids are going through. Thank you all.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Home Away From Home.

In reality we didn't leave until this morning. Although we packed and were ready to go my own parents hadn't firmed up their own plans and by the time we were in a place to be able to go, we were beyond being in any shape to drive. We crashed in our beds and woke up to a chill in the air and sun in the sky. And eery silence. Ghost town. At least in our area.
These were the last photos we took as we headed out of town. The top photo is the coulee across from our park. The bottom two are the coulee behind our house that we have worked so diligently to constuct. Its as close to the river as we could get, although we haven't seen it now for a couple of days. I rather like the portion of the sign left showing, in the foreground. It looks like it says "No." I am in total agreement with that. No as in no more flooding. No more water. No more. NO.
We managed to make it safely to Park Rapids, to Grandpa Jim's and Grandma Carole's lake home, where we were welcomed with open arms. While we don't have local tv stations we do have internet access and I'll check in as time allows. The river has not crested yet. But the unforseen circumstance that seems to have had a postive effect on slowing it down is the cold weather. Its very much an irony to me that the very thing we have longed to have leave, is the very thing that may have saved us in the end. We're counting our blessings and hoping and praying for the best possible outcome for everyone. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. Knowing so many people are rooting for us has kept us going when every step is such an uncertain one.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Its go time...

Hey everyone,

Really quick, we're leaving.  We just got the call to go and we're listening.  Know that we'll be okay and in touch as soon as we can :)  Not giving up hope, just being careful and cautious.  Love to you all!


Code Red

This is the sandbag line going to build the contingency dike now needed as a back-up to the first dike. With both boys at home I had little choice but to stay close to home this morning, as we would otherwise be in the way of some critical work being done.

As I stood in the backyard looking at all the volunteers streaming in, my phone rang. I looked at the number... 911 and some other 9's. Code red. It was a recorded message that said "Prepare to evacuate if you live... " well right where we live. The next call we will get will be the "go" call. While no dike has been breached, with visions of the hurricane Katrina evacuation running through our heads, we can't be too prepared.  And yet, the parts of the highway still open, are already clogged with cars.  

I don't know what to even think, but autopilot has kicked in. We've brought what we can upstairs. We've packed our bags and got our paperwork in order. We know and feel we still have a fighting chance and nobody is throwing in the towel. We've been out sandbagging most of the afternoon, what our aching backs and weary minds will allow us to do.

The jokes are still flying along the lines. We were talking about our lack of showers. I said I broke down after three days and showered today, and the man next to us said he'd once gone 110 days. We all said what? 110 days, why, where were you? And with the wind whipping, I kid you not we thought he said Iowa. And we were like, the last time we checked Iowa was fairly civilized with showers and all... but it turns out he had said Iraq, and that just made a whole lot more sense. Sure was good for a hearty laugh though.

But there is still concern. We just heard the new prediction is 42 feet... which doesn't even register anymore. Because the very last two pictures are of the seepage occurring from the dike we built on Sunday. And for every foot up we have to build, we have to widen the base by that much more to support it. Look at how high those firemen are standing on that dike... I can't even fathom how high the water is on the other side. And they've made good on their promise. The last person they caught going on a dike to look at the water, is in jail. So I am limited in what I can physically get to.  I'll just take their word for it. 

Thank you everyone for the calls and the emails and the friends who drove all the way over here to just check up on us :) We appreciate all of your concern and will do our best to keep you posted on our whereabouts.

And this is the "vital" stuff the kids want to "save" from the flood. Hockey sticks and stuffed animals. What 8 and 6 year old wouldn't think these are vital?

Flood evacuations...

By 9:00 pm tonight the temperature dropped to a 7 degree wind chill factor. And to faces, ears and hands that have grown accustomed to 30's and 40's, it felt like January all over again. We didn't last very long out there and will have a fresh go of it again tomorrow since school has been cancelled for the rest of the week.  I thought these photos taken in the snow with the glowing material on the firefighter's trucks and backs was a sort of neat effect. I laughed at seeing that this crew was from Eden Prairie. Rick's college roommate lives in Eden Prairie and is a member of the fire department. The firefighters promised to give him grief for us for not coming to rescue us.  

I couldn't get out to take more photos today.  I heard the coulee is filled with water and running onto the road now.  The national guardsmen in our front yard also told us today they have been told they will be here for two weeks.  

So with all of the talk of evacuations... yes, I said evacuations, I got to thinking. Just what do you take when they either come knocking on your door or they issue a code red through your phone? They've warned us you won't get much time.   So tell me, what two things would you grab on your way out the door if you're house is being washed away by floodwaters and why? ( I am saying two because most of us have two hands. Family members and pets are already included so don't include them.) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Red River new crest predicted at History making 41 feet!

The picture of Annie, in the photo above was taken by an AP photographer and ran in the Fargo Forum today. Too cute not to share.

I've been largely stuck at home today. Can you tell why? In normal times a snowstorm that brings up to 9 inches of snow at the end of March is newsworthy. Today it was just adding insult to injury. But with the latest news we're gearing up to go one more time. As of 1:30 pm the city officials are putting out the call for one more big push of sandbagging. Instead of just a 24 hour effort, we now need a continuous 48 hours. Instead of 42 feet being high enough for our dikes... we are preparing now to raise them to 43.

It was a virtual ghost town for awhile in our neighborhood. But its coming back to life now. The semi's are bringing the bags of sand and the red cross took up post outside our house. The national guards men who have been residing outside my house and delighting Nolan and his friend Ethan with a ride in their truck, are now steadily directing traffic again.

Rick and Nolan left to help one of our hockey families refurbish and raise their dikes. With the images of evacuations now occurring in places just to the south of town, more reality has set in.

And yet, the other bit of reality is that regardless of the outcome of everything, we will ultimately be okay. We will be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and settle into a new kind of normal. The important things will still be intact.

Right now, there are others who are in more dire need than anyone of us here. Its hard to imagine just over a month ago MckMama and I had a such a fun and playful exchange going. Today as I battle to keep water at bay, baby Stellan (and his family) is fighting the biggest battle of all, he is fighting for his life. I encourage you to click the button at the top right of my sidebar, and go offer some encouragement to sweet baby Stellan's family. We can fix the damage done by a flood, but doctors have yet to fix poor Stellan's heart.

Red River Rising!

Earlier this evening we sneaked away from the neighborhood and walked in the direction of the river. We ran into some friends who really wanted us to see their dikes and told us to go through their yards to get to the river. So Rick and I managed to get all the way to the edge of the river. Oh my cow! Its moving so fast. Crazy fast. And its spread out so far. It gave us a clear image of what is heading our way, and I mean now. I can attest to the fact that those trees, are not normally in the middle of the river!

On our way back we almost got sealed in. The earthen dike is being built all the way across 40th Avenue and the people who live on the west side of it will be walking to their cars parked on the other side to get out.

The above three photos are where I perched most of the evening. I took over filling bags this evening and rested my sore back and arms from passing sandbags. This next little bit is for my neighbor who is traveling in Europe. One of the sandbag stations happens to be outside of her house, so I've gotten several photos of it. She has three of the cutest boys and I know she is missing them terribly. I saw her husband carrying their youngest into the house tonight at dinnertime. He looked happy and well! The house looks great and hubby seems to be holding up just fine. It must be hard to be so far from home at a time like this, but be assured everything is okay!

Sorry for the poor quality of the last photo. But if you look really, really carefully you'll see why I bothered to take it in the first place. Nestled amongst the trees is a robin. My first robin of spring. And I am just going to take this as a sign of hope.

Thanks again to everyone offering their help, and kind thoughts and concern and prayers :) The days are starting to run together and we're only a few days into what could last for weeks. So every kindness, lifts us up, and gives us the grace to keep going. I've been sharing your comments too, and they bring the biggest smiles when everyone knows people from near and far are expressing their care. So please feel free to leave a comment, they mean more than you could possibly know.

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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