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Quiz about Hell and High Waterthe Flood of  97
Quiz about Hell and High Waterthe Flood of  97

Hell and High Water--the Flood of '97 Quiz


In April 1997, along the Minnesota-North Dakota state line, a flood of record proportions occurred. This quiz is about that natural disaster. The title is from a book about the flood from which much of this information comes.

A multiple-choice quiz by austinnene. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
austinnene
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
282,129
Updated
Jul 23 22
# Qns
20
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
13 / 20
Plays
425
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
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Question 1 of 20
1. What type of winter weather preceded the spring flood? Hint


Question 2 of 20
2. Blizzard Hannah was the worst blizzard that swept the area that winter. What was the most lasting damage caused by the blizzard? Hint


Question 3 of 20
3. The flooding that Hannah caused occurred when streams and small rivers overflowed their banks, and shallow walls of water inundated the land, forming shallow lakes over large areas. What type of flooding is this? Hint


Question 4 of 20
4. The streams and small rivers that criss-cross the region flow into a larger river, which forms the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. It was this river's flooding that so devastated the region. What is this river? Hint


Question 5 of 20
5. What preparations were taken for possible major flooding before it actually occurred? Hint


Question 6 of 20
6. What was another factor in causing flooding during this nightmarish spring? Hint


Question 7 of 20
7. One common activity during early April that year was dike walking. What was this? Hint


Question 8 of 20
8. The small town of Harwood, just north of Fargo, made the national news for its flood protection efforts. What did the citizens of Harwood do to keep their town safe? Hint


Question 9 of 20
9. On April 18, the Red River in Grand Forks began breaching the dikes and overflowing the sandbags. What was the first warning that the situation was approaching disaster proportions? Hint


Question 10 of 20
10. When did the National Weather Service first forecast that flood levels would be higher than the diking system could withstand? Hint


Question 11 of 20
11. Although much of the city of Grand Forks was not under water, city officials nevertheless ordered over half the city evacuated. Why? Hint


Question 12 of 20
12. As if the flood weren't enough, what happened on Saturday, April 19, that left people across the country shaking their heads, unable to believe what was befalling Grand Forks? Hint


Question 13 of 20
13. How many people were killed in the flood? Hint


Question 14 of 20
14. How long was the Grand Forks "Herald" out of commission? Hint


Question 15 of 20
15. How long did the evacuations last? Hint


Question 16 of 20
16. What was the Angel Fund? Hint


Question 17 of 20
17. Was FEMA assistance available?


Question 18 of 20
18. When people did return home, what was the first order of business? Hint


Question 19 of 20
19. Was it ever learned why the National Weather Service had failed to predict accurately the level to which the Red River would rise? Hint


Question 20 of 20
20. What, if anything, has been done to protect against a recurrence of this kind of disaster? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. What type of winter weather preceded the spring flood?

Answer: Record snowfall throughout the region.

Grand Forks had 98.6 inches of snow during the winter of '96-'97, and Fargo, 80 miles to the south, had 117, both record snowfalls. People dug tunnels from their driveways to their front doors through snow that had drifted up to the lower edge of their roofs.

It was colder than usual as well, without any midwinter thaws to melt some of the snow that lay everywhere. There were eight recorded blizzards during that winter.
2. Blizzard Hannah was the worst blizzard that swept the area that winter. What was the most lasting damage caused by the blizzard?

Answer: Power outages lasting up to three weeks.

Hannah hit the area on April 4, 5, and 6. The storm reached the highest category of blizzard on the National Weather Service rating system. It started out as rain, then turned to ice, coating power lines quickly. Many lines snapped under the weight. Hannah also dumped seven inches of snow on the area.

It did cause serious flooding, a mere prelude to what was to come, in the small towns of Breckenridge and Ada, Minnesota.
3. The flooding that Hannah caused occurred when streams and small rivers overflowed their banks, and shallow walls of water inundated the land, forming shallow lakes over large areas. What type of flooding is this?

Answer: Rapid-onset flooding.

Rapid-onset flooding occurs fairly suddenly, and generally doesn't last more than a couple of days. There was some warning that flooding was going to occur, ranging from less than an hour to, in some cases, up to a day's advance notice that a flood was on the way.

But there was nothing to be done to prevent its happening by the time people realized a flood was coming. A shallow wall of water spread across the area, which is very flat, forming a lakes anywhere from a foot to three feet deep. The surface of the water froze when the water stopped moving, and many livestock froze in place with it. Citizens were evacuated until power could be restored.
4. The streams and small rivers that criss-cross the region flow into a larger river, which forms the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. It was this river's flooding that so devastated the region. What is this river?

Answer: Red River of the North

The Red River of the North (as opposed to the more famous Red River down Texas way) is formed by the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and the Otter Tail rivers in Breckenridge, MN. It is somewhat unusual in that it flows north, into Canada.
5. What preparations were taken for possible major flooding before it actually occurred?

Answer: Sandbagging, building up dikes, and more sandbagging.

People spent the first two weeks of April sandbagging frantically, even though the National Weather Service was forecasting flood stages to remain just under the level that Grand Forks and East Grand Forks could withstand with their current diking systems. Even though Grand Forks was supposed to weather the floodwaters, towns along its tributaries were also faced with the prospect of exceptionally high water from the snow melt which was to come. School kids were dismissed early if they volunteered to sandbag, and civic groups and employers held sandbagging events. Dikes throughout the area, which is no stranger to spring flooding, were checked and those that appeared weak or to need repairs were put to rights.
6. What was another factor in causing flooding during this nightmarish spring?

Answer: Ice dams on the area's rivers.

As temperatures rose, the thick ice that had formed on area rivers broke up into small icebergs and began to float toward the Red River. At times, several of these icebergs would get stuck and form dams, causing the water behind them to overflow the riverbanks and flood surrounding areas. Environmental officials dispersed these dams using heavy equipment or by dynamiting them.
7. One common activity during early April that year was dike walking. What was this?

Answer: Volunteers walked on the dikes to monitor water levels and look for signs that the dike was failing.

Volunteers were sought to walk dikes in many towns and make sure that they were holding, and the rivers weren't coming over anywhere. It was the best way to make very sure that the dikes were protecting the towns. Dikewalking was a cold, and often wet, way to kill a couple of hours, but many people volunteered for the chore.
8. The small town of Harwood, just north of Fargo, made the national news for its flood protection efforts. What did the citizens of Harwood do to keep their town safe?

Answer: They built a dike all around the town, leaving only a single road open to the outside world.

The townspeople built an earthen ring dike around the entire town, leaving only a single road open to traffic. It worked quite well, too. Most homes in Harwood were spared serious damage. Aerial photos of the flood clearly show Harwood as a dry area surrounded entirely by water.
9. On April 18, the Red River in Grand Forks began breaching the dikes and overflowing the sandbags. What was the first warning that the situation was approaching disaster proportions?

Answer: Emergency sirens were sounded in neighborhoods near the river at about 4 am.

Emergency sirens are present in most towns in the region, mostly used to warn of tornados or other severe summer storms. The sirens went off in the very early hours, warning of the impending failure of the dikes in a couple of neighborhoods closest to the river.
10. When did the National Weather Service first forecast that flood levels would be higher than the diking system could withstand?

Answer: Half a day after the dikes failed.

The Weather Service did not forecast that the flood would exceed the protection level afforded by the dikes until several hours AFTER Grand Forks had issued mandatory evacuation orders for several neighborhoods. Through the day, more and more accounts were heard of dikes failing on both sides of the Red River. By nightfall on April 18, all three vehicle bridges across the Red River were underwater, completely cutting off the two towns. North Dakotans were stranded in Minnesota and vice versa, with the nearest functional bridges many miles distant.
11. Although much of the city of Grand Forks was not under water, city officials nevertheless ordered over half the city evacuated. Why?

Answer: All of these.

Urban floods have a number of consequences beyond wet living rooms. The water and sewer systems in both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks failed and the electricity was turned off in both cities. There was water up to five feet deep containing sewage, chemicals, gasoline and oil, all kinds of household garbage, broken glass, metal, and the carcasses of dead animals.
12. As if the flood weren't enough, what happened on Saturday, April 19, that left people across the country shaking their heads, unable to believe what was befalling Grand Forks?

Answer: The downtown business district burned down.

Fire broke out in the Security Building in the heart of Grand Forks' downtown business district. Firefighting efforts were hampered--first, by the necessity of rescuing about 40 people living in threatened buildings who had defied the evacuation orders, and second, because the streets were full of water but, ironically, the city's water supply had failed.

The was no water pressure in fire hydrants. The fire continued burning for nearly 24 hours, and was finally extinguished by airplanes and helicopters dropping fire retardants and water on it from above. By that time, 11 of the city's most stately buildings had burned, including the offices and pressroom of the Grand Forks Herald, the city's newspaper.
13. How many people were killed in the flood?

Answer: None.

Miraculously, no one died of direct flood-related causes, and only minor injuries were reported. It's a good thing, since the hospital was evacuated! Patients were airlifted out to various hospitals across the two states. In some cases, it was several days before loved ones were able to track down where a hospitalized friend or relative ended up.
14. How long was the Grand Forks "Herald" out of commission?

Answer: It didn't miss an issue.

The "Herald" didn't miss a beat. The University of North Dakota provided sufficient computers for the paper to put out an issue on Day One of the flood, but soon the University was under water as well. The publishers accepted an offer from an elementary school in the little town of Manvel, 25 miles north of the city, and set up an impromptu city room there. The paper itself was printed in St. Paul, by the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, for about a month. The "Herald" gave copies away to hundreds of people who were displaced by the flood and living in shelters, to keep them up on what was happening as the days went by.

The Grand Forks "Herald" won a Pulitzer Prize for its unbroken coverage of the flood.
15. How long did the evacuations last?

Answer: Several weeks.

The floodwaters receded only slowly. Drinking water wasn't restored to either city until the second week of May, three weeks after the flood hit. School was called off for the remainder of the spring term in both towns; The University cancelled the remainder of its term as well. Nearby towns were overrun with evacuees in search of any safe haven. Crookston, a town of about 9,000 28 miles east of the river, swelled overnight to 13,000 people.

Many in Crookston, which had barely escaped a flood of its own, felt the city had been spared in order to provide shelter for those from East Grand Forks.

In North Dakota, the Grand Forks Air Force Base offered shelter to many. It was three weeks before people were let back into the towns, and then only to inspect the damage and leave again.

In some cases it was a month or longer before a family could reoccupy its home, and many, sadly, could never return to homes that had seen flood waters up to their roofs.
16. What was the Angel Fund?

Answer: A fund set up anonymously to provide financial assistance to flood victims.

The fund came out of nowhere and the donor insisted on anonymity, which lasted a little while, but eventually it was learned that Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's restaurants, had been the "angel". She donated $15 million to flood victims in cash assistance, $2,000 apiece. Ronald McDonald House later donated an additional $5 million.

It was a great blessing to many families, money without any of the red tape usually associated with disaster relief.
17. Was FEMA assistance available?

Answer: Yes

FEMA was there, but the process of applying for FEMA assistance involved, not surprisingly, a daunting mountain of paperwork. It wasn't until the first of May that FEMA announced it was bringing 100 trailers to the area for people to occupy while displaced. Considering that approximately 50,000 people were without homes, this announcement didn't impress anyone much. Nearly two years after the flood there were still a handful of FEMA trailers in use.
18. When people did return home, what was the first order of business?

Answer: Removing spoiled food from their homes.

The most immediate--and largely unanticipated--chore was to remove spoiled food, notably meats, from freezers that had stopped functioning weeks before. The smell of the spoiled meat was pervasive-and nauseating-for several days as people tried to salvage freezers that seemed to have absorbed the stench like sponges absorb liquid.

The cleanup effort took many months. Most major appliances were ruined, and piles of them lay on curbsides waiting for pickup. New landfills had to be developed to hold everything rendered unusable by floodwaters.

The process of drying out nooks and crannies took months. Homeowners who were in too much of a hurry to clean up, paint, and put down new carpet were rewarded weeks later by the discovery of black molds that grew inside walls and made people sick.
19. Was it ever learned why the National Weather Service had failed to predict accurately the level to which the Red River would rise?

Answer: No single cause has been identified, although several factors appear to have contributed to the failure.

There were many theories bandied about shortly after the disaster, and the Weather Service took a lot of criticism for its failure to predict the flood crest in advance. Later analysis of the factors that caused the predictions to be off indicated that the extreme flatness of the region caused sluggish flow that resulted in "backwater effects"--the water actually sloshing back and forth as it tried to make its way northward.

Another cause was "bridge effects": once the water went above the bridges, the spans of the four bridges (three vehicle bridges and one foot bridge) actually caused additional friction and slowed the flow of water, adding to the height of the crest.

Other reasons for the failure relate more to the inadequate understanding of what a crest prediction does and does not mean, and ultimately, on the fact that predictions are based on experience, and in a record situation such as this, no experience exists, so prediction becomes very difficult.
20. What, if anything, has been done to protect against a recurrence of this kind of disaster?

Answer: Higher dikes are in place in both cities.

The cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks have come back from the flood, better than before in many ways. Each city has raised the levels of its dikes and are protected to a level of 60 feet (the river reached 54 feet in 1997). East Grand Forks, in addition to raising its dikes in places, installed a flood wall, which borders the river.

It has removable panels that are placed over roadways when flooding is imminent, forming a solid barrier against floodwaters. Divergence projects have also been completed in the area.

In 2001 significant (but not record level) flooding of the Red River tested the cities' efforts. Happily, the improved dikes did keep the cities from being inundated again.
Source: Author austinnene

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
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