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So Many Red Rivers – What Have We Learned

March 28, 2009

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In the News:  FARGO, N.D. — Along the banks of this city, the Red River surpassed its highest level in history Friday morning, forcing the emergency evacuation of one neighborhood before dawn and leading city leaders here, once cheerfully upbeat, to sound far more dire.

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RED RIVER VALLEY – As the Red River of the North rose toward record levels and evacuations mounted, the mayor of Fargo, N.D., vowed Thursday that exhausted residents and volunteers would continue to fortify the area and “go down swinging if we go down.”

The mandatory evacuation of more than 190 homes in two Fargo neighbourhoods and an area nursing home have been ordered in North Dakota amid growing doubts over whether the swollen Red River can be held back.  Fargo police ordered residents living in about 150 houses in a neighbourhood south of the city’s downtown to evacuate at about 2 a.m. on Friday after a “significant leak” was found in a dike at a crook in the river, said police Capt. Tod Dahle.

Flood volunteers relax a little

  • North Dakota, Minnesota iReporters feel some relief as river stops rising
  • “We’ve moved to the vigilant monitoring stage,” iReporter’s mother says
  • Finding volunteer opportunities getting difficult, West Fargo man says
  • Volunteer spirit “not any unique thing up here,” he says

This is just another natural disaster.  The United States is not really prepared or focused on the FACT that extreme weather will be displacing and disrupting American life more often than the recent past.  Weather related disasters may or may not be normal earth cycles, finger pointing at the cause is not the issue.  Preparation and adaptation IS the issue.  FEMA is only as effective as the people who run it.  They have been ruled by politics and power for too long.  The tales-of-the-unexpectedpopulation that uses FEMA must also be proactive in their own survival and formulate their own options. There must be a reliable PLAN B already in place for areas in flood plains, coastal communities.  These plans must be open and available to everyone.  Updates to these plans must be part of every school and public curriculum.  Life skills for a changing planet and how it impacts you and your  community must be required.  With more extreme weather, geological disruptions and political unrest, populations without options will suffer tremendously.  After suffering, they become a burden to other survivors.  Education systems must teach reality and common sense.  Teach students to think about solutions and options to every imaginable scenario. Engaging and enabling youth to accept responsibility for  their own survival may also encourage them to appreciate being part of the solution.

What have we learned?  Expect the unexpected.

Hate to sound dramatic, but poor education and even poorer curriculum lacks practical application life skills.  Education, in general, must be useful for both students and the society they inherit.  America, specifically, must do more to encourage education policy makers,  to shape teaching agendas to include practical life applications.  Ever wonder why many students remain ‘bored’  and distracted?  Ask a student, too many cannot make a connection with classrooms and their own life.  Students are an unlimited resource of hope, if we prepare them to address the ‘unexpected’.  We are at the mercy of the next generations, it would be a global shame to waste it.

Mother Earth will always express herself, the ancients knew that and gave other explanations.  Modern civilization has lost touch with earth and demonstrated it by becoming clueless to extreme cycles that we call disasters.  They are disasters because we behave like they will never happen … we build on flood plains, on shallow coastland, beside volcanoes and on top of tectonic fault lines.  The news is always full of people in peril, rescue efforts and high cost of attending the damage and recovery from ‘natural disasters’.  The operative word here is NATURAL.  If Mother Earth has her NATURAL upheavals, why can’t people tune in and be prepared for NATURE?  Check out USGS Water Website and  USGS North Dakota Flood and USGS Midwest Flooding.

The human race will have to recover some ancient understanding before it can be tuned into Mother Earth again.

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9 Comments
  1. April 4, 2009 9:02 pm

    Thank you Gideon. History has successes and failures to show us. But, we have to actually look at history through a clear lens … there are so few clear lenses.

  2. April 4, 2009 1:32 pm

    Your title of “So Many Red Rivers” reminds me that man does not learn very much from history.
    If anything, history should be our best teacher… that is not yet the case.

    Gideon Mukwai, CEM
    http://www.1xtramile.com

  3. March 29, 2009 4:01 pm

    Thank you for the great link Tom. I agree that Global Warming is not the issue anymore. Being prepared for whatever nature has in mind is what has been forgotten. What humanity has contributed to all the natural cycles of Mother Earth is pollution. Mother Earth will always express herself, the ancients knew that and gave other explanations. Modern civilization has lost touch with earth and demonstrated it by becoming clueless to extreme cycles that we call disasters. They are disasters because we behave like they will never happen … we build on flood plains, on shallow coastland, beside volcanoes and on top of tectonic fault lines. The human race will have to recover some ancient understanding before it can be tuned into Mother Earth again.
    You have inspired me to add part of this comment to this post, thanks again.

  4. tommoriarty permalink
    March 29, 2009 3:03 pm

    See herefor links to a very nice USGS poster about the history of Red River flooding and its causes. The “landform factors” and “Weather factors” mentioned in the poster are laid out in the post and addressed one by one. The bottom line: Extremely high precipitation in the fall saturated the soil. Then temperatures dropped to record lows in mid-December through mid March. Then the temperatures rose to above normal for about two weeks in the last half of March.

    The Red River finally crested at about 40.8 feet, slightly higher than the previous record of 40.1 feet in 1897. I think that even Barack Obama would agree that the 1897 flood was not due to global warming. So where is it between 40.1 feet and 40.8 feet that global warming becomes obviously responsible?

    Best regards
    ClimateSanity

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