Burke Addition residents again fight the Red
Informally, the Burke Addition is known as one of the last flood-prone neighborhoods near Grand Forks. Formally, it's known as the Country View Neighborhood -- and even after floodwaters have seriously threatened homes here in the past, there are...
Informally, the Burke Addition is known as one of the last flood-prone neighborhoods near Grand Forks. Formally, it's known as the Country View Neighborhood -- and even after floodwaters have seriously threatened homes here in the past, there are still a few residents who say floodwaters be damned, they're keeping their view.
One such resident is Wade Noack. Twelve of the 20 years he has lived on Lake Drive, the water has stayed within the banks of the coulee, he said. So he's not willing to erect a dike blocking the view of his backyard to protect against possible flooding for a few weeks each year.
"They can't even see the water from their roof damn near," Noack said, gesturing at a permanent dike in a neighbor's backyard.
But this year, the water is threatening to enter Noack's house if he can't get a temporary clay dike installed Saturday built up before Wednesday. Looking out from the deck behind his house, the floodwaters waters in which his duck decoys bobbed were just a stone's throw away.
Noack sandbagged in previous years, but he said spending two 10-hour days using Bobcats to haul out spent sandbags in 2009 was too exhausting.
"I'm 53, and I'm sick of it," Noack said.
Noack is one of 20 Country View homeowners who have houses on the east side of Lake Drive facing the coulee's floodwaters. Though most of Noack's neighbors have built permanent dikes and are protected to about 52 feet, they expect floodwaters to rise 4 inches to a foot higher than the 52 feet expected within the city limits.
So, Tuesday afternoon, Country View residents were busy adding a few extra inches or feet of protection with clay, sand or plywood.
But with no permanent protection in place, Noack may have started too late. By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the water was 6 inches from the top of his dike, and Noack still wasn't sure it was dry enough to build up. If it wasn't, then floodwaters would flow over it and into Noack's basement by Wednesday.
"If that happens, I'll open the doors and the windows and welcome the Red," Noack said.
For residents with permanent protection, preparations were less harried. Mel and Gerri Olson's home is protected to 51 feet, 9 inches by a concrete wall. Tuesday afternoon, Mel and a few friends, decked out in coveralls, built a plywood extension on top of the wall to protect the house to 53 feet, 6 inches.
The Olsons have lived in their house for 39 years, so they have fought floods in 1979, 1997, 2009 and 2010. The past three years, the couple has had to return early from wintering in Texas to fight the floods. They agree with Noack that the worst part isn't the preparations -- friends and volunteers are plentiful at that stage -- but the clean-up, especially when your backyard is filled with thousands of sandbags.
"You don't get any help getting 'em out," Gerri said.
Down the block, Bobcats were busy adding clay to Joel Manske's permanent dike, raising its level to "53 feet at a minimum," Manske said.
"I don't see it as too big a deal," he added.
Just north of Country View across 62nd Avenue, sandbaggers at Steve Adams' farm had a similarly laid-back attitude, even as floodwaters steadily crept within a few feet of Adams' house. Many volunteers, including a few of Adams' employees and his grandson's hockey coach, were returning for a second day of work, adding two feet of sandbags to Adams' permanent protection of 51 feet. More than a dozen adults worked to transfer pallets of sandbags to a ring around Adams' house, breaking up the work with beer and banter.
"Want me to save your Christmas tree lights?" shouted one volunteer, standing near a small stand of pine trees wrapped with strands of lights that would soon be submerged.
"It's Christmas somewhere."
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