Located along the Red River of the North, Oslo, Mn., where I was born more then a half century ago, is literally closed and has been turned into a temporary island. If you aren’t in this little Mn. prairie town right now, you aren’t going to be able to get there for sometime, unless you go by boat. The last road leading into Oslo was closed on Tue., Apr. 12,2011, and it will not be reopened until the Red River flooding has receded.
The small prairie town of Oslo, Mn., 25 miles north of Grand Forks, N. Dak. has once again been flooded by that ravaging Red River. This is nothing new for the less then 400 residents, who reside in Oslo. With 3 consecutive years of major flooding on the North Dakota Prairie, townspeople are getting used to being isolated from the rest of the world, temporarily.
The isolation is is no picnic for Oslo, by any means. Many of the people need to leave the town and move elsewhere in order to survive. Their jobs are more then likely not in the town itself, so that means having to relocate, even for a short time. Past experiences with flooding in Oslo have had residents stuck for weeks in the flood ravaged town. Local businesses suffer because of no viable means of getting in and out of Oslo.
The National Guard has sent soldiers to help patrol the levee system that protects the isolated community from major flooding. Even though Oslo is surrounded by floodwaters, and nobody can get in and out of town, the main street itself remains dry.
Back in 1950, when I lived in that area, businesses and homes in Oslo were underwater and residents needed motor boats to get through town. In the early 1970’s, that changed when the Army Corps of Engineers built a permanent levee around most of the town, and that levee hasn’t failed, but when floodwaters spill across the flat farmland of the North Dakota Prairie, the roads leading into town are covered with water, thus closing all roads into Oslo until those floodwaters recede.
An airboat brings the mail and supplies in and out of Oslo, and in case of emergencies, the boat is available to get people in and out of the area.
Frustrated residents of Oslo have been asking for years for help in getting this almost yearly flooding situation resolved. “They spend money on fixing the roads after the flooding occurs, just to have them ready for the next flood” , townspeople say. Right now the Army Corps of Engineers has to come in every year and build a 2000 foot temporary levee by the Red River to close a gap in order to protect Oslo itself from being totally flooded. Oslo wants that levee made permanent so this doesn’t happen, year after year.
It sounds like their may be a more permanent solution in the making to help Oslo from being turned into somewhat of a Ghost Town if the Red River floods again in the future, which is very likely to happen, considering the past history of this area. Let’s hope this can happen soon so the little town of Oslo, Mn. won’t have to go into “lockdown” one more time.