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Michael Harvey: 'Back then, if you wanted to get beat up, you said something bad about Pat Owens'

Michael Harvey models the gear he wore to clean out his basement after the 1997 flood. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

Michael Harvey's most lasting memory of the Flood of 1997 was the unwavering strength of Grand Forks Mayor Pat Owens.

Even when President Bill Clinton came to Grand Forks to see the damage left by the flood, Owens was the one to stand out on stage with the leader of the free world.

"She was the shortest one there, but that lady just glows," Harvey said. "Back then, if you wanted to get beat up, you said something bad about Pat Owens."

Like many, Harvey went to Grand Forks Air Force Base when he was evacuated from his home on Ninth Avenue South, across from what is now Altru Hospital.

During the 1979 flood, the English Coulee backed up into his basement, Harvey said, but he was confident he wouldn't get any water this time.

He prepared as much as possible by putting items for safekeeping in his car. But when he was able to go back to his home, Harvey still found a basement full of water.

Harvey set the sump pump up outside because he didn't have electricity in his home. The water in the basement was right up near the ceiling, Harvey said.

So, taking the water down 8 inches a day, Harvey slowly dried out his basement.

"It took us a long time to get it down," he said. "And once that was done, we still didn't have electricity."

— Wade Rupard