Minot Flood 2011.

As most of you know from the constant media coverages, Minot is currently in a record-smashing flood situation. We live on base – Minot AFB – and let me stress this first: we are okay. We are fine. We are not flooding, and we have not lost anything. Our only precaution right now comes from a valley-wide water system “Boil Alert.” As such, I boiled and sanitized several containers of drinking/cooking/hand-washing water yesterday, and I will simply boil more if needed later. It’s nothing to fuss about, especially considering that we have friends that have lost EVERYTHING in the city.

We cannot access the city at all right now (roads are either closed or washed out), but we are self-sufficient on the air base. We had gotten in the habit of venturing into the city for movies, eats, and fun things to do, as well as other shopping, and we may go a bit stir-crazy after a while on just the base, but we are still fine. The kids have their rec center, as well as a library, an arcade, and tons of parks. We still have television and video games. We have PLENTY of food because I had just completed and shopped for a 22-day meal plan, but our commissary is also running and restocking at normal rates, though the delivery trucks are taking alternate routes to our base. We are VERY fortunate.

There just aren’t words devastating enough to describe what I feel in the midst of the massive flooding situation. Instead, I will share pictures – the ones that tell entire stories with each glance. I do hope you’ll give Minot – our town – a moment’s glance and look through them.


Minot Flood 2011 - lost toybox.
A lost toy box floating through a flooded residential area.

Not one of the following photos is my own, as Minot has pleaded with folks NOT to try to get to town just to take pictures. Workers are trying desperately to build dikes, and every car that insists on being on the road slows dirt drivers from where they need to be. I’m happy to heed their words and stay home in a time like this.

A story of the Minot Flood, as told through pictures.

After a heavy winter’s snowfall of 84 inches (7 feet!), plus a lengthy spring filled with nonstop rains, the dams in both Canada and North Dakota were holding above capacity and standing at imminent threat: massive flooding was in the future. An attempt was made to “control” the flooding, and the dams were put at scheduled releases. This first happened four weeks ago, and many were made to evacuate in the Minot area. Two weeks later, evacuees were finally able to return to their homes and begin assessing any damages.

And then the announcement came early last week: the dams had to release again. The estimates were vastly incorrect the first time, and the release now would be far, far worse. The usual outflow of the dam pictured below is 800cfs, but the release needed to run much higher, and for a long period of a few days. The first number issued was 17000cfs…

Lake Darling Dam release.
Lake Darling Dam release.

As was the case in the first flood situation, sandbaggers sprang from the woodwork and worked tirelessly around-the-clock to “arm up” the city and its home and businesses. Sandbagging stations were everywhere you looked, on almost every block, it seemed.

Sandbags in Minot.
Sandbags in Minot.

After a day’s worth or preparation, reports began to trickle down that the numbers from Canada were still incorrect, and the dam was releasing much higher than originally reported: 22000cfs. The angry, fast-moving water was racing toward Minot.

Angry waters at the dam.

Churning flood waters.

Those in proximity to the flood waters recounted that it, “sounded like Niagara Falls,” the rushing water was so intense. Meanwhile, every construction vehicle in our area had switched duties and began a race against Mother Nature to save the city.

Building dikes all over the city.
Building dikes all over the city.

View from the top of a dike - that's how high the water will get!
View from the top of a dike near my friend’s home. The water was expected to reach 15′ or more in some areas.

Alas, there was still one important change to come: the water was instead releasing at 28000cfs. Though the city had been working so hard to save as much as possible, the incorrect numbers had caused depth estimations to be wrong. Therefore, dikes had been built to one height, but in many places, it wasn’t going to be enough. Workers raced to improve what they could with the new predictions in the final hours, but for many places, there just wasn’t enough time to save them.

The flood began.

Train tracks washing out.
Train tracks washing out at Tierrecita Vallejo.

Tierracita Vallejo train tracks.

The lush green campus of Minot State University was marred with ugly brown dikes snaking the campus. Still, these dikes represented the only hope left.

Dike protecting Minot State University.
Dike protecting Minot State University.

So many other schools in the area, both elementary and one of the two middle schools, did not fare so well. Despite dike protection, the efforts weren’t enough to save our schools.

Flooded playground at Longfellow Elementary.
Flooded playground at Longfellow Elementary. (After this photo, the school went under as well.)

Lincoln Elementary.
Lincoln Elementary.

Ramstad Middle School completely underwater.
Ramstad Middle School completely underwater. (The brand-new gymnasium stands higher.)

Catholic school and church.

I don’t have an image saved of Purkett Elementary, but it looks just as poor. There may be others as well, as it is difficult to keep track of all of the devastation at once.

Floating deck.
A floating deck on a residential street.

A few select gas stations were earmarked for saving as assets to the city’s rebuild afterward. Harley’s Conoco Station was one, and it was protected with a mighty dike. The parking lot also served as one of the largest sandbagging operations until the water came too near.

Harley's Conoco protection.
Harley’s Conoco Station.

Arrowhead Shopping Center & Harley's Conoco Station.
Arrowhead Shopping Center, Burger King and Harley’s Conoco Station after the flood waters entered.

Residential area near some of the city’s baseball fields.

Despite the colossal damages, a sad beauty could be found in the flood waters, too.



It was said that, on the Broadway Bridge pictured below, the city was silent except the sounds of the raging water and the flags flapping in the wind…

Nighttime on Broadway Bridge. (Notice the flag?)
Nighttime on Broadway Bridge. (Notice the flag?)

But when daylight dawned again, the town saw little else than ruins.



Even the “fun” things weren’t spared.

Dog Park near the 83 Bypass.
Dog Park near the 83 Bypass.

Roosevelt Pool.
Roosevelt Pool. (The city’s only large swimming pool.)

Zoo entrance & concession stand.
Zoo entrance and concession stand.

But the homes and businesses lost numbered in the thousands.

Aerial view.



Boats at the Renaissance Center.
Boats at the Renaissance Center.



Dairy Queen.
Dairy Queen. (Jack’s soccer team just held their end-of-season party there exactly one month ago today.)

'New' Home for someone recently.
‘New’ Home for someone very recently.

St. Augustana church.
St. Augustana church.

Floating deck with flowers.
Floating deck with flowers.

Home - the roof is all that's left.
The roof is all that’s left.

Aerial view.
Another aerial view.

4th intersections.
4th intersections.


Million-Dollar homes on the river.
Million-Dollar homes on the river.

Great, but sad, views.
The views are breathtaking and heartwrenching at the same time.

And if you’ve ever traveled in the Dakotas, you remember that they are known for rolling, green foothills. Instead of the scenic repose they usually offer, many in the Minot area have now been carved – mined for their precious clay to build dikes for the city.

Digging clay from the Dakota foothills.
Digging clay from the Dakota foothills.

Digging clay from the Dakota foothills.

The lowest point of elevation in the city is the 6th Street Underpass, which just happens to be to the immediate left of the Minot Public Library. As such, a desperate rescue was implemented to save the library.

6th Street Under pass - a desperate rescue to save the Minot Public Library.
6th Street Underpass and Minot Public Library.

6th Street Under pass - a desperate rescue to save the Minot Public Library.

6th Street Under pass - a desperate rescue to save the Minot Public Library.
Before & After.

6th Street Under pass - a desperate rescue to save the Minot Public Library.

6th Street Under pass - a desperate rescue to save the Minot Public Library.

6th Street Under pass - a desperate rescue to save the Minot Public Library.
Even the walking bridge is entirely gone.

6th Street Under pass - a desperate rescue to save the Minot Public Library.
But the library remains saved.

The local Red Cross facility did not fare as well, however.

Minot Red Cross.
Minot Red Cross.

Boat in front of Minot Red Cross.
Boatmen and television crews in front of the Red Cross.

Despite the melancholy chaos, the city of Minot remains, and the heart of its people beats strong and fierce. They will NOT give up, and there are reminders of hope for the future.

The constant motto for the city.
The constant motto for the city.

Many even still have their humor.

Keeping humor.

And so many have come to help. Their willingness to serve and support refreshes and encourages the people. Every new set of hands to work is a blessing.

So many workers, working around-the-clock.
So many workers, all running around-the-clock.

American Red Cross comes to town.
The American Red Cross comes to town.

Black Hawks deliver supplies.
Black Hawks deliver supplies.

National Guardsmen are everywhere.
National Guardsmen are everywhere.


The city will NOT give up the fight, but we do need your help. Even all of the images I shared above are over two days old now, and the crest of the river has only just happened. Things are so much worse than imaginable. (You can see still images from yesterday’s Black Hawk tour of the city HERE, for example.) However, several agencies and groups are doing their best to support the city – to “lift up Minot,” and I beg you for your help if you can give.


T-Shirts sold to raise funds for Minot.
T-shirts sold to raise funds.

You can donate directly to either Minot Red Cross or Money For Minot (a group started by our neighbors on the far side of the state in Fargo, ND).

If you’d rather contribute via your cell phone, you can make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army’s flood relief efforts by texting “MINOT” to 80888 and replying “yes” to the confirmation text. A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your phone bill.

Lastly, please PRAY for the city of Minot. Even yesterday afternoon (while in the throes of fighting the flood), we experienced severe thunderstorms with hail and a few small tornadoes. Even one more drop of water is too much. All prayers and thoughts are greatly appreciated, and I thank you for remembering what has now become “our town.”

(Please feel free to link back to this post if you’d like to share the fundraising efforts. I’m hoping my words spread far to help this city I love!)

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28 comments on “Minot Flood 2011.

  1. Nancy Cleghorn on said:

    We have thought and prayed for the people in Minot while watching national news programs, etc. The devastation is unreal and awful.
    Thinking of you all too and sending our love.

  2. Lou Marin on said:

    I know many of these pictures came from somewhere else, but you show them well. I love how you organized this and told the story!

    Great job!

  3. Susan aka The Painted Cookie on said:

    Nicole like Nancy we have been seeing images on the news and praying for Minot as well. Your pictures tell the story and it is hard to believe that the levels had not crested yet in your picture. I will RT and share your posts on FB. Our prayers are with you♥

  4. Renee - Kudos Kitchen on said:

    Thanks you for sharing the information on how to help. I will make a donation.

  5. Paula on said:

    I knew what I saw on the news the other night was terrible and all of these pictures just serve to magnify the devastation that your beloved city and it’s people are having to contend with. I am so thankful that you and your family are O.K. on the base, yet in the same breath, I’m so sorry that so many of your friends are having to deal with the loss of their homes, businesses and belongings. I will do what I can to help lift up Minot. Thank you for this post Nicole and the links and numbers by which we can lend a hand. Take good care as we keep you and the people of Minot in our prayers. ♥ Paula

  6. Erica on said:

    What a great post. You have said everything I’ve wanted to say and more. Minot is my hometown; I’ve been away for 4 years but most of my family and many friends are still in Minot. I live in Oregon now and it is so hard to be away and see my home and all the places that I loved to be swallowed up by the river in a few short days. It is heartbreaking and difficult to explain to people here what is really going on.
    But thank you most of all for loving our city, especially since it sounds like you are not a native of Minot. I am always so happy to see Air Force families who embrace what is beautiful about Minot and the people, in contrast to those who grumble about how cold/hot/boring/depressing it is without ever making an effort to be part of the community. Kudos!

    • Nicole on said:

      Erica, we love the “little city” feel here. We’ve got no end-date on our orders, and we’re perfectly happy to sit here as long as the Air Force lets us. The people here have been so nice, and I feel badly that they have welcomed us so well, and yet we have the safe homes on the air base. Does that make sense?

      I’m glad my post has touched your heart, and I do hope you’ll share it with others. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I hope your family & friends are okay.

  7. Nicole Herman on said:

    Well my friend, as I’ve been frantically trying to keep my coffee business open and running all over town…getting stuck on the bypass for up to an hour….taking the long way everywhere. I’m actually in awe at how calm everyone seems in the midst of this disaster. I really do love it here and despite loosing one of my Kiosks (Oak Park) I still know that we will forge ahead. Minot tugs on your heart….and I want everyone in the world to know this is a place that deserves to be rebuilt bigger and stronger than ever.

    I have a hard time coming home at night, getting into my own bed knowing my friends are sleeping in guest rooms, hotels, shelters or worse. All of their possessions are stored in garages or warehouses. Their houses are under water….

    I am grateful we are safe on base, sincerely…but this is our community too…and when one hurts, we all hurt.

    Thanks Again Nicole!!

    Thanks for putting the blog together. I’m gonna pass it on for everyone to see and share the pictures.

    • Nicole on said:

      Nicole, I know you know how I feel. I’ve wondered about your kiosks, too. That, and I know that none of them can run right now due to the boil order & water shortage. Despite that, you and I are still lucky ones in this situation.

      Thank you for sharing – I hope it helps!

  8. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on said:

    I’ve seen this on the news, and my heart goes out to everyone in Minot… I will continue to lift up the community in my thoughts and prayers!

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  10. Robin Kankovsky Aldrich on said:

    I’m a native Minoter, living in Indianapolis. The home that my grandparents “built” and my uncle lives in now is located at 4th Street NW and 2nd Avenue NW in the shadow of the Broadway Bridge.

    I love my hometown; I go home as often as I can. It is comforting to read so many military personnel who have moved on reflect with fondness to Minot.

    Thank you for sharing the story…I’ve donated to the Red Cross Mid-Dakota Chapter and would like to buy fundraising t-shirts as long as the proceeds benefit Minot or reputable agencies. Please update those of us who are reaching out from far away to hug our city, both the natives and the people, like you, who are woven into the fabric of our history.

  11. Kathy on said:

    Nicole, I have wondered about you and your family and how the flooding has affected you all. I’m so glad you are safe and haven’t lost any of your possessions, but of course my heart goes out to the others. You have done a wonderful job of presenting the horror and agony of the people that live there. Thanks as well for telling us a concrete way of helping.

  12. sarahlesar on said:

    I lived in the red and white house across Lincoln school about 11 years ago. I can see a little bit of my house in one of these pictures. would love to see more of my house. Its so sad. I loved that house.

  13. Emily@SoDomesticated on said:

    Nicole… so glad you are safe. I have family in Minot and so far not too many of them have had to evacuate. Take care and my thoughts and prayers are with you and all those living in Minot.

  14. Andrew on said:

    I was study at MSU at the season 2008/09!!! Therefore, I am very sad hearing about the flood.! ALL EUROPE IS WITH YOU GUYS!!!! Good bless Minot!! Missing the Magic City and all the wonderful people there!!

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I’m Nicole, and I’m glad you’ve stopped by my little corner of the web! I’m a former Air Force wife whose passions are baking, cookie-making, and photo-taking… all to the benefit of my loves – my family! C’mon in to…read more.


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