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Letter: One intense and unforgettable flood is enough, thanks

After reading the Herald's commemoration the 1997 flood, I'd like to share some of my own flood memories:

Water squirting through the cinder blocks in the basement. My husband, Gary, calling the National Guard at 1 a.m., asking them to help us evacuate our home. Taping a note to the front-door window saying we were gone.

The Humvee arriving to take us to our car, which I'd parked two blocks away; the water wasn't there yet.

Joining the stream of traffic heading west on DeMers Avenue, then to the Air Force Base. Being directed to the big hangar with hundreds of cots set up.

Setting our duffel bags on three beds; getting a coffee and snack from the Red Cross; looking for neighbors, and finding a phone.

Getting about three hours of exhausted sleep. Calling Mom in Fargo to let everyone know that we were OK.

And after that, having nowhere to go.

I think we were heartbroken but didn't know it.

I called a sister in Las Vegas. She said yes, we could come and stay; we flew out that afternoon. As we flew over Grand Forks, I looked out the window and said, "Gary, there's a lot of smoke!"

Our office was in the Sorlie building; it didn't burn, but it was ruined.

I remember how shocking it felt to come off the plane into sunshine and stability, rather than the darkness, uncertainty and unknown that we had left behind. Did we have a home to come back to?

Gary had packed all of his socks, we found out as we unpacked. He didn't want wet feet. I'd packed as many batteries as I could find for the transmitter radio to keep up with the flood news; our son had packed his baseball equipment. So yes, we had to go buy clothes.

Two weeks later, we were back in Grand Forks. Our car was still in the airport parking lot; the airport didn't charge a parking fee—that was very nice.

We drove into the war-zone-like town, and saw the insides of all the houses piled on the curbs.

We went into our own house. The water in the basement was almost up to the top step; the freezer and jars were floating. We had no water on the main floor, but also no electricity.

We went to Fargo. My brother found us a one-bedroom apartment, where we could live until we got back into our house, which happened around June 6.

Of course I remember the massive cleaning that was required. And I remember the incredible amount of help we received from from family, neighbors and even strangers, too.

My first feeling about the flood was a sense of betrayal from Mother Nature. My feelings today are of gratitude for the help we received, and for the sense of community that Grand Forks regained.

But believe me, I never want to go through that again.

Ellen Brehmer

Grand Forks