FEMA for Kids – Flooding

To help kids understand what is happening with flooding in the Minot area, I am posting the following story from a booklet produced by FEMA. The story is titled “The River Rises.” At the bottom of this post is a link to download the entire booklet, which includes information on tornados, blizzards and other natural disasters.

The River Rises

Julia looked out the window.

“Is it ever going to stop raining, Grandma?” she asked. It had been raining hard for three days. “This was supposed to be a vacation.”

“I hope it ends soon,” Grandma said. “I don’t know if the Acorn River can take much more.”

Grandma looked worried. Most of the time, the Acorn River was a nice, slow river, lazy as a cat in the sunshine. Now it was full and raging.

“But Grandma,” Robbie said. “we’re pretty far from the river.”

“You’re probably right,” she said. She didn’t want to seem worried in front of the children. “Are you ready for lunch?”

The twins went into the kitchen to help Grandma make tuna and grilled cheese sandwiches.

But still the rain fell, even past dinner.

That night the weatherman on the television was serious. Usually he wore a funny tie and made jokes. He didn’t joke now.

“The river is approaching flood stage,” he said. “The Army Corps of Engineers is sandbagging along the shore.”

“Oh dear,” said Grandma and she started to rub her hands together, which she did when she was really worried.

“Is that bad?” Julia asked. “What does sandbagging mean?”

“I know,” shouted Robbie. He was always trying to prove he was smarter than his twin. “It means putting sand in bags!”

Julia scowled. “I knew that! But why?”

Robbie started to answer but no words came out of his mouth. Finally, he said, “I don’t know why.”

Both Grandma and Julia laughed because Robbie looked like a funny fish with his mouth opening and closing. When she stopped laughing, Grandma told them the sandbags would be stacked along the river to keep the water from flowing into the town.

“Then we’ll be safe,” said Julia hopefully.

“Probably,” said Grandma. “But we need to be prepared. This area flooded many years ago, when I was a little girl.”

“What should we do?” Julia asked.

Grandma said, “The water can rise very fast in a flash flood. We need to be ready to evacuate, just in case.”

Julia and Robbie looked at each other. This was serious.

“We’ll help,” Julia said. She definitely didn’t want to be swept away. The thought made her shiver.

“Pack a suitcase with things for a few days,” said Grandma.

The twins went into their rooms and packed clothes and shoes. They didn’t forget their toothbrushes.

“Can I bring some toys?” Julia asked.

“By all means,” said Grandma.

Grandma packed a suitcase, too. In addition to clothes, she made sure she had important papers, jewelry and heirlooms like her wedding album and an antique quilt.

Soon they were done. Then Grandma instructed Julia and Robbie to gather flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, canned food and a can opener. Grandma also found the small cook stove in the camping gear, and then she did something funny.

“Grandma!” Julia shouted. “What are you doing?”

She was filling empty plastic soda bottles with water from the tap and putting them in a cooler.

“It’s important that we have a supply of water,” she said. “We don’t know what may happen.”

Their supplies formed a small pile in the living room. Grandma turned on the radio so they could hear important news.

“Now get some sleep,” Grandma said.

Julia and Robbie thought they would have trouble sleeping, but they were so tired from gathering all the disaster supplies that they fell fast asleep. Grandma woke them up at dawn.

“It’s time to go,” Grandma said. “We’re being asked to evacuate.”

Julia and Robbie were scared and excited at the same time.

Grandma put their suitcases and disaster supplies in the car. She had the twins’ dog, Skipper, on a leash and extra food for him. They all got in and Grandma drove out of the driveway. Other families were doing the same thing.

It was still raining.

“I don’t see anything,” said Julia. “Where’s the water?”

“It’s still far away, but it’s spilling over the sandbags,” Grandma said. “But not to worry. We evacuated in time. Sometimes people wait. That’s not smart. Even six inches of water can sweep a car away.”

Grandma had grown up along the river. She knew all about flood safety.

“We’re going to go into the next town,” she said. “There’s a Red Cross shelter there. We’ll stay there for a few days until the water recedes.”

“And Skipper, too?” Julia asked.

“I’ve made arrangements for Skipper,” said Grandma. “He can’t stay at the shelter, but there’s a nice kennel in Porterville where he can stay until we can take him home.”

“But what about the house?” Julia asked. She was almost in tears. “What about your nice house?”

Grandma stopped at a red light.

“Don’t cry, honey,” she said. “I have all the important things with me – you two and Skipper and my heirlooms and papers. I don’t keep important things in the basement because it might flood. And my utility box is upstairs, away from the water.”

“You’re great, Grandma,” said Robbie. “You know everything.”

“I even have flood insurance,” she said, with a smile.

Grandma drove for a while, leaving the river far behind. Then she turned the car into the twin’s favorite diner.

“Anybody ready for breakfast?” she asked.

The twins didn’t have to be asked twice. They could almost taste the pancakes now. And then Julia realized something.

“It stopped raining,” she said. “Finally!”

To download the booklet, click on the following link: http://legacy.grandforksherald.com/pdfs/FEMA%20juliarobbie2.pdf

For more information on the flooding in Minot, visit www.grandforksherald.com

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