Lessons have been learned since 1997
Its definitely tempting to compare and contrast the Flood of the Century back in 1997 to the most recent flood, which etched its place in the regions history with waters that in some places were the second highest ever to be recorded.
In 1997, for example, we were victimized by ice. A storm rolled through that, yes, did slow down the melting process, but it crippled the region with wind and sleet so dangerous that sandbagging efforts needed to protect areas were brought to a standstill. And some went without precious power, needed to run sump pumps and other equipment, for literally weeks.
This year, the enemy was limited to areas in and around the Red River Valley. True, there was a lot more water in 1997, but the water this time around was just as dangerous, and as disastrous. Just ask the woman pulled from her vehicle by a rural Minnesota man after floodwaters had swept it off the road and into a flooded field. She was literally moments from drowning.
The fact that this years flood, as much of a flash-flood as springtime melts can be, was not more damaging is a credit to the lessons weve learned in the nine years since the Flood of 1997. Were better prepared, better situated to deal with things like this, and perhaps we take things more seriously.
Unfortunately, some tools that would have helped many in this years flood fight arent with us yet. In Grand Forks, only 85 percent of the levee system protecting that city is completed, so sandbagging was essential in some areas. The same scenario was on tap for those in north Fargo and extreme south Fargo.
Closer to home, families in between West Fargo and Harwood were dealt another spring with water everywhere, a situation that will most likely be limited by the Maple River Dam, currently under construction. The dry dam, which is situated near Enderlin, will hold back water only during flood events, and the Maple River was a key figure in this years flood.
With the Maple and Sheyenne reaching their confluence north of town, also an area where the Sheyenne Diversion meets up again with the river itself, there was a lot of water heading to one spot. With the Red plum full, that water had nowhere to go. Holding back the Maple will ease some of those problems.
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The Governors Commission on Education Funding met right here in West Fargo last Wednesday, discussing the new plan put in place to help bring equity to the way North Dakota schools are supported with our tax dollars.
The prognosis, Im happy to say, is good. The Commission is tackling equity while not employing a steal from the rich, give to the poor kind of attitude.
The fact was, with the old system, Districts like West Fargo had a huge advantage thanks to growing populations and a large land valuation helping prop them up during tax time. However, the disadvantage fell upon area landowners, who saw property taxes skyrocket.
Put it this way, theres no reason a north Fargo homeowner should be paying Twin Cities-like property taxes to fund the local school district. Ditto for those out in Eagle Run.
The new system would level that off (hopefully) and also eliminate any need for a sales tax increase, which is something those in Fargo are begging for to alleviate those aforementioned property taxes.
The bottom line is that grass-roots organizations are nice, but this one is off base. Let the Commission do its job, and your school equity issues will be remedied before you have to pay that extra half-cent tax at the cash register.