GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Twenty years ago this week, two Grand Forks public school officials got an early look at the devastation in their flooded city.

Bill Hutchison and Dick Olson rode in a military vehicle through four feet of the flooded Red River to the district office to retrieve the payroll records so Grand Forks teachers could be paid.

“Just depressing,” is how Olson remembers it. “Probably about the worst thing I’d ever seen from the standpoint of the flood because I knew we had to do the work to clean it up.”

Olson was the school district attorney and Hutchinson the assistant business manager when they embarked on the mission with the district’s business manager.

Two days earlier a massive fire had burned three blocks in the heart of downtown. The trip took them past what was left of those very buildings.

The pair watched 20-year-old video this week shot by KARE 11 and reflected on the past and present. 

“When I look at it, you get emotional but you feel good about it too. I’m happy the way it turned out and happy Grand Forks was able to come back as good as it did,” said Hutchinson.