David Dahle

David Dahle

Posted on 01/21/2016

Photo taken on April 17, 1997

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1997 flood - Grand Forks, ND

1997 flood - Grand Forks, ND
(NOT my pic - found somewhere on the 'net)

This gives you an idea of what Grand Forks, ND / East Grand Forks, MN was up against in the spring of 1997.

A wet fall season in 1996, heavy snow in the Otter Tail River and Bois de Sioux River watersheds in the winter of 1996 / 1997, and a rapid snowmelt in late March 1997, all combined to create the most devastating flood ever experienced in the Red River valley - and its effects were felt all the way up to where it drains into the Hudson Bay in Canada.

Complicating the situation at Grand Forks was the NWS' commitment to a forecast river crest of 49 feet at Grand Forks, to which both cities built their dikes (EGF on the left, Grand Forks on the right), but the NWS realized too late that the river would, and did, exceed that forecast (actual crest was 54.5 feet).

On the other hand, the Red only reached 39.5 feet at the Fargo / Moorhead area and the people there were very fortunate in being able to build up the dikes there, preventing major damage in that area. Further north, the tiny town of Bowesmont was flooded out for the last time, and the residents all accepted buyout offers and that town is no more.

Coming back to Grand Forks, this picture was likely taken just as the DeMers Ave. bridge slipped beneath the Red River (as it has in the past), but within a day, the dikes in the Lincoln Drive neighborhood failed early on April 18th, and other dikes in the area soon failed - forcing the complete evacuation of East Grand Forks and 75% of Grand Forks. I have family in Grand Forks - three lost their homes and the fourth had water to within 1" of their basement ceiling. Some family friends also had serious damage to the main floor and basement of their house.

Anyhow, I couldn't help but notice the transmission lines AND substation in this picture - all of which are gone. I'm not sure what the East Grand Forks muni did with that 69kV line, but the city has put much of its well-kept (albeit occasionally crazily constructed) 4160V system underground. NSP got rid of that 69kV line and the substation (and may be what prompted them to upgrade and expand the 'Nordic' sub in central Grand Forks)

Jesse Lor, Berny have particularly liked this photo

Matt Weldon
Matt Weldon
I remember this flooding to this town. Didn't the town also have a major fire downtown that burn down a lot of the old historical buildings?
20 months ago.
David Dahle has replied to Matt Weldon
Yes - and that would actually be in the upper right part of the picture. If I remember right, some of those fires started from electrical equipment that flooded and shorted out before NSP could cut power to the affected circuits.
20 months ago.