March 29, 2009 -- In this standoff between man and nature, nature may have blinked -- but no one here is celebrating.
The swollen Red River, which for days threatened to submerge whole neighborhoods in North Dakota and Minnesota, is now receding. Weather officials say the river may have already crested, at just below 41 feet.
But officials and residents are now turning a wary eye toward forecasts of snow and wind in coming days.
The river "can come back up again," said Fargo resident Chuck Hoge. "Now is not the time to take a break."
Across the river in Moorhead, Minn., homeowner Bob Footitt said he's worried that temperatures will rise, leading to melting ice that will force water levels up again.
For now, Footitt, whose home is dry even though he lives just a few hundred feet from the river, is grateful for the freezing weather that slowed the river's rise.
"If we didn't get this cold weather," he said, "who knows what would have happened?"
For some, the worst has already happened – more than 100 homes have been flooded in Oakport, Minn., as well Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo.
Local resident Dan Hersrud's garage is now a slushy mess, thanks to the floods.
"It took everybody by surprise," he said.
National Guard drones are continuing to patrol the region, checking on levees. A leak in a floodwall on the north side of Fargo was discovered overnight and is now being repaired.
Some evacuees were starting to return home, though officials are urging them to leave at nighttime.
"Our concern would be: you fall asleep at night, the dike is breached, and your house is taken," said Fargo City Councilman Tim Mahoney.
But the continued anxiety hasn't dampened the spirits of at least one local family: Nathan and Brittany Akker got married this weekend in Fargo, throwing together a wedding even though both their reception site and church cancelled on them because of evacuations in the area.
'Waters Cannot Quench Love'
Brittany Akker's father, Pastor Cal Thompson, who was recovering from open heart surgery, married the couple at their hotel.
The scriptural theme of the wedding, which was chosen months earlier, proved fitting, Thompson said.
"It's Song of Solomon 8:7. It says this many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away," he said. "And that was what was sent to all the guests, oh, two or three months ago."