The Souris River flood of 2011 is history as far as Bruce Anderson is concerned. And nothing piques his interest like history.
The hobby historian was two years into researching and writing an in-depth history book on Minot when the Souris River began to threaten the valley in the spring of 2011. He picked up his camera during the flood fight to capture images that might be useful in his book. Epic flooding, horrific devastation and thousands of photos later, Anderson realized that a critical period in Minot's history had just taken place that needed to be recorded.
"The history part of me took over, and I wanted to document what happened," said Anderson, a former teacher and now media coordinator at Minot Public School's Central Campus.
This photo by Bruce Anderson shows the Arrowhead area sitting under water despite diking after the Souris River overtopped its banks last June.
He spent eight months compiling a three-hour and 40 minute, high-definition audio-video account of Mouse River history, including information on past floods, the Minot teacher's strike and Zip to Zap events that occurred the year of the 1969 flood and a segment of more than 1,200 photos titled, "The 2011 Return of the Monster Mouse." The two DVD set is available for $29.99 at Home Sweet Home and Wild Things Gallery in Minot.
The Souris, also locally known as the Mouse, was a focal point for recreation and entertainment in Minot in years past, Anderson said. In the early 1900s, a boat launch existed at the base of the Broadway viaduct. Dressed in their Sunday best, people would float down the river in canopy boats to Wildwood Park, located near Oak Park. The park offered a 40-foot slide into the river and a zip line running across the river.
The river also has been prone to cyclical flooding. Floods or high water have occurred in 1904, the 1920s, the late 1940s and 1951 as well as from 1969 to 1979. There have been houses in Minot that have been under water multiple times, Anderson said.
Those floods paled in comparison to the 2011 event, though.
"It's a very tragic flood, and the stories are so sad," Anderson said. "I saw how important it was to document the flood for the generations to come and for people who do not live around here and have no idea how severe and tragic this flood really was. I can't do a history of the river without documenting this flood, too."
The documentary lays out the background of the river, dams and river channel cuts. It shows how the people came together to dike and aid in evacuation.
"That was a unique story that was truly people working together to help people in this town. It was an incredible story," Anderson said.
Anderson's account features aerial photos from his three helicopter tours over the city and multiple excursions in airboats.
Anderson, who has lived in Minot more than 40 years, was a Minot State University student in 1969 when he took a boat trip into Green Valley, then a new subdivision in southeast Minot, to assist a homeowner. At the time, he said, he never considered that 42 years later, he would be taking another boat down that same street and seeing that same house under water.
In the DVD, he attempted to show the damage to all the neighborhoods. The documentary includes a 15-minute segment on the Burlington flood.
"I narrated up to the flood scenes. Then the pictures spoke for themselves," Anderson said. He obtained the background music directly from the song writer after discovering the haunting melody.
"It's painful at times to reflect back," said Anderson, who admits the documentary might be difficult for many flood-impacted residents to watch. Wounds might be too fresh. But the story needs to be preserved, he said.
The recorded history continues into the flood recovery, showing how people came together from around the country to help Minot.
A portion of the proceeds from DVD sales will go to flood relief, although the specifics still are being worked out, Anderson said.