EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Rising waters of the Red River necessitated a mandatory evacuation of Sherlock Campground in East Grand Forks on Monday, Oct. 14, displacing dozens of people set to work the sugar beet harvest.
The campground in the Red River State Recreation Area was closed after 9 a.m. with campground manager Catherine Johnson going around to notify people of the closure.
“I drove through some of those roads this morning when I was checking. I came in at 7 a.m., just because I was worried,” Johnson said. The roads she referred to, near the riverside of the campground, were underwater around noon.
The evacuation caused even more trouble, with one person driving an RV into the floodwaters in an attempt to turn around.
“He was down here, and he should have gone straight, but he drove down thinking he could make it, and then realized, oh, this is pretty deep,” said Johnson. “I think he drove in and tried to turn around. … He got hung up on the curb down there ... and it just kept digging and digging and digging a hole, and then there was no getting out.”
A tow truck eventually got the RV freed.
Brock Larson, an agriculturalist with American Crystal Sugar, was at the campground to take in the scene and check on the seasonal workers for the company.
“It was quite a few, over three-quarters of the campground,” said Larson, of the displaced workers.
Still, he remained hopeful that they could get back to work soon.
“We’re going to try to get them to work as fast as we can, if the weather cooperates,” Larson said.
People in the campground were being relocated to the parking lot of the now-closed Kmart at the Grand Cities Mall.
Pat Tasker came from South Dakota for the harvest. She said someone from Express Employment Professionals came by and told her to take her RV to the Kmart parking lot. She said she has only worked two days out of the month, due to the weather.
Sherlock campground host and third-year law school student Kathey Harouff and her dog, Nona, were in the process of packing up Monday morning, after the evacuation notice.
“It wasn’t always my plan to stay here,” Harouff said. “I was just going to stay here for the first semester, and then, when the campground closed in the middle of November, I was just going to get an apartment. I was going to get an apartment for second semester, so we just moved that plan up a month.”
She said she rushed to get an apartment and find a place to park her camper.
“It was pretty easy to get a spot, and it’s cheap to park,” Harouff said. “I put all that together between yesterday and today."
Harouff said she was aware of the rising water situation and had been keeping an eye on it.
“We’ve been watching the water come up; I’ve been taking pictures of it everyday,” Harouff said. “From yesterday to today, and then from this morning until now, it’s amazing how fast it’s come in.”
The campground will remain closed for the season.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and this has never happened,” Johnson said. “This is the first time."