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."
Forecasters increased the river's crest projection, saying that by Saturday afternoon, the Red could reach 43 feet, an all-time record in Fargo-Moorhead and 3 feet higher than the historic 1997 flood.
To make matters worse, the river is expected to remain above 40 feet for several days, threatening to overwhelm the protections put in place by thousands of weary residents, city workers and volunteers working in gray, subfreezing weather.
"At elevation 42, that creates a lot of challenges and serious problems," said Dave Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard and the state's emergency operations director. "Our intent is to ensure we have mustered every resource that we physically can to support this community."
Said Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker: "We do not want to give up yet. We want to go down swinging if we go down.
"I want to make sure we commit every resource and every volunteer to do what we can do," he said. "Then, if we fail, we'll fully understand what's happened."
The people of North Dakota and Minnesota don't grab a lot of headlines. Upper Midwesterners are used to taking care of themselves and each other. Instead of standing around, wringing their hands, they're in there fighting.
Too bad the good guys get very little recognition.