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Kelly Smith, Published March 26 2009

FLOOD UPDATE: Fargo leaders tell Oak Grove residents they're trying to protect them but be prepared to evacuate

FARGO - About 150 residents from the Oak Grove neighborhood in north Fargo poured out of their homes this morning to intently listen to city officials talk about the fate of their neighborhood.

This is a neighborhood that knows all too well what to expect after the ’97 flood hit them hard. Yet, they still had a half dozen or so questions for city officials, who sounded confident the neighborhood will fare alright during this flood.

“We fully expect to defend every part of the city,” City Commissioner Tim Mahoney told them. “We’re going to respond as quickly as we can. You will have power, water unless we evacuate the area.”

And that – an evacuation – is what seemed to concern residents the most.

Police Chief Keith Ternes told them this morning that he’s confident they won’t have to evacuate.

“Right now, evacuation not only in your neighborhood, but anywhere in the city, is not imminent,” Ternes said. “With that said, it is also prudent, responsible for us to at least plan, prepare for the worst.”

For the evacuation plan, the city is divided in seven sections, with Oak Grove residents their own section.

If they have to evacuate – “and it’s still a big ‘if’,” Ternes said – they are instructed to move to the center of the city – west of 8th Street and south of 12th Avenue.

In the meantime, the city expects to start work on a contingency dike this af-ternoon, with hopes to finish tomorrow.

It cuts off dozens of the neighborhood’s homes, leaving them on the wrong side of the contingency dike.

And that leaves Oak Grove resident Phil Hughes concerned.

“I just think, if you have so many people in the area – it’s going to be a logistical nightmare getting out,” he said.

For more, check back with www.inforum.com and Friday’s Forum.