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The night before the flood gates broke, I had a feeling we were in trouble. Water was starting to finger past an irrigation dike and into our ample back yard.
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The scene from my kitchen window when I woke up Saturday. That’s our chicken coop, already under a good foot of water.
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We started scrambling, first getting everything off the floor of the basement, then working outside, anchoring anything that might float away and getting pumps and hoses ready to dewater our house.
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Meanwhile, my Lab, Willow, was at war with the dozens of mice and voles that were scrambling to dry land, including our porch and vehicles, as the floodwater advanced.
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The horses were getting nervous. Exiled to a narrow stringer of dry land, we decided to feed them on their peninsula.
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The only way to get hay to them was in this ice-fishing sled.
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The water kept rising, inching up at a rate of about an inch an hour.
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But even dire tragedy can’t keep little girls from posing.
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Or kids from shooting…
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In this case, their targets were the rodents, swimming for their lives. When the kid ran out of live targets, they turned their BB guns to floating pieces of wood.
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Would we be able to save the house, or would the rising water inundate the foundation?
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Our neighbors were fighting their own battle against the water.
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They took a boat to their swamped home.
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It was clear that I’d have to go for more sandbags. I waded across a flooded road to reach some bags that I had stored in a vehicle parked along the paved highway.
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A neighbor graciously invited us to fill bags from their pile of sand, yarded up for communal use. My boys prepare to fill a 6-cylinder bagger.
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The device makes short work of the tedious job of filling sandbags. First, bags are pushed up the tubes…
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Which are turned over and readied to accept sand…
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The boys shovel sand into the cylinders, which load the bags…
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And then they pull the jig off the top of the bags, which are ready to tie up and load in a vehicle.
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We return to the house to find the water has risen another inch or two. Another three inches and it will start to work against the foundation of the house.
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Luckily, we have some great friends, who show up to help tote sandbags and give us a second wind.
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They even take turns poling around in our ice-fishing sled, turned into an impromptu boat. Will the house get swamped?
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Water from the flooded Milk River has been creeping ever closer to my river-bottom home, but for a couple of weeks it had kept a respectful distance. Until this weekend.

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