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As Red River Rises, Residents Prepare

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Local photographer Greg Haney was out for six hours last night. He joins us from Moorhead. And, Greg, this is a repeat performance for you, both in sandbagging and on this program. We talked to you at this time last year when you were in full-throttle with sandbagging, right?

GREG HANEY: Yes, Melissa. How you been?

BLOCK: I've been okay. Well, what's different this year? I guess the city officials there say, for now at least, sandbagging is done.

HANEY: They're pretty much set until they hear that the level's going to go any higher, you're right. So at this time last year when we talked, they were not even in the middle of it, they were still working a lot harder.

BLOCK: I see. So, you got an earlier start this year.

HANEY: Yeah. They started three, four weeks ago preparing sandbags and stacking them. And Fargo had a goal of a million sandbags and they reached that goal this week. And Moorhead had a goal of about 300,000 sandbags, and they reached that goal this week, as well, long before the flood has crested.

BLOCK: And do you figure with the sandbagging at the level that it's at, that that would be enough to hold back the river?

HANEY: Yes. They usually predict and put the sandbags up about two feet above where it's predicted.

BLOCK: Well, what's the weather look like heading into the weekend? Is it working in your favor?

HANEY: It is working in our favor. It's staying warm so the bags are soft and they pack together nice. And it's freezing at night, which slows down the thawing in the ground and floodwater coming in.

BLOCK: What's the mood like this year compared with last year, do you think, Greg?

HANEY: Well, the mood, for those that are sitting there sandbagging is just as happy as it was last year. There's always ambition in people and the young people around this area have really stepped up this year, the high schoolers. There's a spring break going on, so not all the college kids are out and at it. But the ones that are here are helping out as well, a lot.

BLOCK: Yeah, last year you were telling us about people making up songs. It sounded like a pretty, sort of, festive atmosphere out there.

HANEY: They're still singing songs. And I think that Journey song, I think I heard that one song, that "Don't Stop Believing," 'cause that's always fun to hear.

BLOCK: Oh, there you go. That'll inspire you. How much does your back hurt, Greg, after the work you've been doing?

HANEY: It's bad. I do lift with the legs and not with my back. I try to practice that all the time, but sometimes, you know, every time they get together, the group seems to get smarter. So they don't work harder, they work smarter and it is still hard work.

BLOCK: Well, I guess you would be getting to know the Red River pretty well by now, if you didn't already.

HANEY: Yeah, you're darn right. It's been here all my life and, you know, '97, 2009 and now 2010 are the most active years that I can ever remember it being.

BLOCK: Now, Greg, you live in Fargo. You work both sides of the river. You live in Fargo, you have a business in Moorhead. How close is your house or your photography business from the river itself?

HANEY: They're both about 15, 16 blocks away from the river. So I'm about 10 blocks from the major complications.

BLOCK: Yeah. And you're feeling pretty good about things right now?

HANEY: Feeling pretty good. My drain stayed, the drain table in my own house stayed below. I didn't have any water backup last year, or this year yet.

BLOCK: Well, let's hope it stays that way.

HANEY: Very much so.

BLOCK: Well, Greg Haney, thanks so much.

HANEY: Talk to you soon, Melissa, and have a great sandbag holiday.

BLOCK: That's Greg Haney, a lifelong resident of Fargo, North Dakota. He, his twin brother and their father own Haney's Photography, across the river in Moorhead, Minnesota.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T STOP BELIEVING")

BLOCK: I kind of hope we're not having this conversation next year, too.

HANEY: I hope so, too, that would be a great conversation to have about it not happening next year.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T STOP BELIEVING")

JOURNEY: (Singing) Don't stop believing. Hold onto that feeling, streetlights, people. Don't stop believing... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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