Marilyn Hagerty: As the snow melts, memories of 1997 come flooding back

You wonder even now what Mother Nature will decide about the rivers and their banks as the snow melts.

Marilyn Hagerty

GRAND FORKS — Life moves on into spring and summer.

Gone are the ham and the eggs and flowers of Easter 2023. The time has come once again to melt the snow. Plant a garden. Find the tennis racket. Dig out the golf clubs, the baseball bats.

And sometimes you look back through history at the years that brought floods to the Grand Forks area. You wonder even now what Mother Nature will decide about the rivers and their banks as the snow melts.

When you turn back the pages of time, there are reminders of floods gone by. And reminders of the flood of 1997 flow from a green covered book kept for Duane and Audrey Anderson. It was done for them by a daughter Jodi Leonidas of Duluth.

“Mom and Dad lost their power,” she wrote. “Neighbors helped on April 15 of 1997 as they moved everything from the basement of their farm home.”


The farm is 5 miles north of East Grand Forks. And while the Andersons now live in Grand Forks they are back and forth to the farm where their son Jeff and his family also make their home.

The basement was filled with clean water on April 17 and 18, 1997. Then on April 19 of 1997, more snow was left to melt. They used a boat to get to their farm home from the highway. There were multiple trips to sandbag central in East Grand Forks to keep sediment from Red River from getting in through basement windows.

On Saturday, April 19, 1997, radio confirmed their fear that the whole town of East Grand Forks was under water. They were able only to get to the Holiday Station on Highway 2 by way of County Road 19. And they were able to fill their pickup with sandbags.

“Nobody in town wanted them anyway,” said Duane Anderson the other day as he reminisced.

Along with others, he remembers, “A rainbow appeared on April 29, 1997, over flooded acres.

“Mom recalls it being the most beautiful she ever saw.”

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