Releases from Garrison Dam have been throttled back to 145,000cfs as of yesterday afternoon. With that in mind, and barring any unforeseen circumstances requiring an increase, we may have already seen the water at its highest. Let’s hope so, eh? While the photos are more dramatic when the water is high, I’m more concerned about the people whose homes and businesses are in the water right now. Hopefully they can start to get their lives and property back to normal as soon as possible.
This raises another question: how many acres in North Dakota have gone unplanted this year due to water-related concerns, flooding or saturation? The answer is scary.
I highly recommend against getting curious because these cliffs are likely to recede even further as the river takes its toll. I guess the park is one more casualty of the Flood of 2011, even though it’ll never be under water.
While I won’t join the cacophony of detractors claiming that the Army Corps of Engineers should have possessed some sort of “crystal ball” to foresee the weather conditions which have brought us to this point, I do think they need a remedial lesson in being forthcoming. I have a hard time believing that they didn’t know that a 55kcfs release rate would not eventually have to be throttled up to the 150kcfs rate. Burleigh County Commissioner Mark Armstrong has been trying to wring details out of them without result, leading to distrust and wild theory.
One of the theories making the rounds out there is the one I just linked above using Scribd: It’s a man who has spent plenty of time around the Missouri River system and claims that Fort Peck Dam is like a “first domino” (those words are mine) in a potentially greater failure which could cut a deep swath through a good portion of the Midwest.
Then you get the photo posted above on the Corps’ own Flickr feed. It shows one of their people pounding in a warning sign and fence near Fort Peck while the bank crumbles into the lake behind them. That’s reassuring, isn’t it?
Granted, the Shanks fella who I referred to a couple of paragraphs back has two strikes against him: first, he works for an environmentalist advocacy group; and second, he has an upcoming book release on this very subject. What better way to drum up interest? He does, however, raise some interesting questions.
Then, of course, you have to wonder about this: an emergency bid being put out for the material which reinforces the Fort Peck Dam, the very one Mr. Shanks claims is the weak link and which is already at 111% of its flood control capacity.
These would likely be defused as a “smoking gun” if the Corps would simply be a little more forthcoming. I know there are some answers which nobody can have on hand, but I find myself sitting here wondering when the 175kcfs shoe is gonna drop. If it does, we’ve got some serious issues to deal with.
The local dikes are built with the mantra “twenty point six plus one” in mind. Suppose the Corps chooses to, or is forced to, increase releases past the 150kcfs mark? Could we build all of those levees even higher still, even if we wanted to? And that leads me back to my original question: why did our local officials even take them at their word in regard to the 150kcfs number, after they’ve constantly moved the goal posts on us?
While Garrison is down a bit, Fort Peck’s inflows are 150% of their outflows…and again, that reservoir is at 111% of Flood Control storage capacity without the spring runoff even starting yet. If the Corps has a plan for this mess, I think they need to be forthcoming with answers to people’s concerns. I still think that anyone who relies on the Corps’ current numbers to have any finality is fooling themselves.
I’m not trying to feed the rumor mill here, so don’t take this post the wrong way. What I am saying is that there are a lot of really inconvenient tidbits of partial information floating around out there, and they can really be used to feed the hysteria if treated improperly or if people are left to try to find their own information and let their imaginations wander.
And if you haven’t already thrown the kids and the photo albums in the car and fled screaming for the hills, you may wish to read this recently posted response by the man in charge of the Omaha District of the Army Corps of Engineers, posted on the Bismarck city website.
Despite that recent assurance, I think the Army Corps of Engineers needs to be more forthcoming while attempting to reassure people that they do have a plan in detail. As far as the people who have decided that Bismarck and Mandan are building to the “twenty point six plus one” is the end of our dike-building, I wish only to remind them how quickly 55,000cfs turned into 150,000cfs…only a matter of days. They need to try to keep the Corps accountable, and if further planning and preparation are needed this is the time to make sure that they happen.
The FAA put out NOTAM (Notice To AirMen) 1/6326 on June 5th with very specific instructions that really don’t leave local pilots much room. My guess is that they fear that the same bunch of lookey-loo gapers that caused traffic jams from one end of the metro area to the other will find a way to take to the air, and that causes a hazardous situation over an area where a rescue is a near-certain impossibility.
You can find the two NOTAM bulletins on the FAA website here:
FAA NOTAM 1/6326 (Bismarck-Mandan)
I don’t know there WERE so many Bismarck- or Mandan-specific blogs, actually. I like Randy Hoffman’s site and (even though we’re ideological opposites) I enjoy Cat’s writing. So who’s spreading all the misinformation?
Well, certainly it isn’t me. In fact, aside from some campy photos of the swamped riverboat, I’ve been far too busy to even get out an see the flooding in person. Even if I did, I think the past several years have proved that I’ve behaved responsibly overall in what, where, when, and how I post stuff on this site.
I guess it’s not so much personal offense as it is the way many people speak about “bloggers” with disdain. Having worked in the communications industry for decades, I could cite plenty of examples of irresponsible journalism from various media outlets in this town. Having a set of call letters or a printing press doesn’t give you any more credibility than the guy who has discovered a story and wants to articulate it.
Being a “citizen journalist” or “blogger” doesn’t make one righteous or noble, either; however, anyone who claims having a J-school degree somehow gives you a)credibility, b)accuracy, or c)integrity needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
As you should have deduced by now, I’m an information junkie. As usual, I have a few links that you may find useful. Rather than act like I have all the answers, I like to point you to the people who do. I haven’t seen these linked anywhere else, so here goes:
I said it before, I’ll say it again: I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I probably have some hyperlinks to help you inform yourself. Having said that ad nauseum and after posting all those links to dizzying information above, let me point this out:
Not facebook, not your neigbor, not even local media.
Do yourself a favor and find your own information from the source. Find out your home’s elevation, watch the river, learn what a river release rate means in relation to a river stage level and how that stage level relates to elevation. Once you get your noodle wrapped around triangulating rate/stage/elevation, you will be able to assess your flood risk very quickly. Better yet, you’ll see through much of the other misinformation.
Remember this post in 2018, if it’s dry and we’re desperately in need of water! What a difference seven years can make.