Monday, June 27, 2011

Mother Nature, you are so mean....

Hi Everyone,
What a whirlwind of a month!! I'm sure most of you have heard about the Minot flood. Mouse River Flood Fight 2011 is what they are calling it. Most important things to note are 1) I am safe, 2) my apartment is not in an evacuation zone, 3) the animals are safe, and 4) I still have a job.
Things started a month ago. We had been hearing about a possible flood, but was usual, no one was really taking it serious. Well Memorial Day was chaotic with us getting 5 inches of rain that day. The Ground hornbill shelter in their exhibit was flooding. The kookaburras were soaked. They all got pulled inside in the pouring rain so they didn't get sick. The golf carts were even stalling out in the water, there was so much. I didn't think anything of it.
The next day we all got called in for a mandatory meeting... or so I thought. I got there, and I learned we had to evacuate the zoo. Now this evacuation was to evacuate the animals to either a place they could be "safe" on zoo grounds or to a warehouse north of town (which has been dubbed the "North Zoo"). At this point, the river isn't supposed to crest any higher than the infamous '69 flood. So 90% of our animals are removed from the zoo completely. The animals to stay were the primates since they could climb high enough in their outside exhibits, reptiles, lamb, dik diks, and outreach animals (which would be moved the next day to NZ). Over the day and night, the giraffes, bears, cats, bison and bongos are shipped off to other zoos. It took a total of 20 hours to get everything moved. I was there for 18 hours. I didn't leave until 5:45am the next morning,it was a long long day. The reason we shipped them is because it was impossible to keep giraffes in the warehouse and gravely unsafe to keep cats (we have lions, tigers, snow/amur leopards) and bears (3 of them) in pens meant for cattle from the fair grounds. Our original plan was to evacuate to the fair grounds until we learned they were to go under too.
So for three weeks half of the crew worked up at NZ and half at the Main Zoo (MZ). Things were looking up. The river seemed to go down, and we were hoping to go back to the zoo soon. Then Monday happened. The park director told us that we had to get out... NOW. so the last 10% of the animals were evacuated to the NZ along with everything they could grab from pictures to toys to rakes that were left behind to mop buckets etc. Every announcement on the radio seemed to estimate the river higher and higher. Remember how the river wasn't supposed to surpass the '69 flood levels? Now it was predicted to go 5 feet higher than '69 and 7 feet higher than 1881. Keep in mind the city has totally gone into hysteria at this point. People are buying out the water bottles.... National Guard, who has been here since the beginning, is getting at least 400 more soldiers to help and are directing all major intersections.... The evacuation zones are now mandatory evacuations.... People have until 10 pm on thursday to get out. Well that soon changed to 6pm... So then comes wednesday- people are hauling butt to get out. All the time knowing that if the sirens go off it means that the water has breached the dikes. 1pm Wednesday, they went off. People really couldn't believe it.
Thursday comes when Mitch (co-worker) and I brought the penguins to Como Zoo. They were getting too stressed, it needed to happen. They had a good ride and were happy to see a big pool when they got there. They will be on exhibit after their quarantine period. You should go and see those gorgeous faces! :)There are 13 of them!
While we were gone, the National Guard closed down part of Broadway, our main road to go North-South. Now people have to drive on the bypass, which takes 2 hours on average to drive. This on a normal base takes maybe 10 min. As of Saturday, our water is contaminated they thinkr so all water is to be boiled before using. NOW as of today, Monday, water lines have broken in town. So now we are under an emergency water conservation order. The joke amungst the zoo is we are waiting for the volcano and earthquake. ha. ha.

THANK YOU EVERYONE for all of your texts and calls to make sure I am ok!! Many of you offered me a place to stay, which I would have taken up on if I didn't have to be here for the animals.

But all in all... the animals are ok as am I. The water is still one block away from my apartment downtown. The water is receeding as of today. So fingers crossed it goes away asap!

The zoo is pretty much closed indefinately. After the water goes away, then there is clean-up. So far my job is safe. It's just sad and stressful.
You're all welcome to call! During evacuation of the zoo, I didn't have time really to talk and explain, but I do now!

Love you all,