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Tracy Frank, Published March 27 2009

FLOOD UPDATE: Casselton preparing to take in 1,500 evacuees from Fargo

CASSELTON, N.D. - The town here is preparing to take in around 1,500 flood evacuees from Fargo. The American Red Cross is setting up a shelter at Central Cass school.

Superintendent Mike Severson received a phone call from the Red Cross at 1 a.m. letting him know that the school would need to serve as a shelter.

St. Leo's Catholic Church in Casselton also is planning to take on evacuees from Bethany Homes in Fargo.

Bethany Homes started preparing for its evacuation about 5:30 a.m. Grant Richardson, senior executive for development and community relations, said he hopes to have all 375 people out by early this afternoon.

In addition to Casselton, people who require skilled nursing care are also being moved to Bismarck, Lisbon, Wahpeton, Grand Forks, and Rosholt and Sisseton, S.D.

"This was something we hoped to avoid," Richardson said. "It's a lot easier to take care of the residents where they're comfortable."

Richardson said it is a physically and emotionally difficult process to move all the residents.

"They're here because they're in fragile health. Each of the residents has going with them key contact information, physician’s orders and medications," Richardson said.

In many cases, Bethany Homes staff members are also going with the residents, Richardson said.

He said he does not know when they will return to the Fargo facility, but he is hopeful it will be fairly soon.

There are now about 50 school busses in the parking lot of Central Cass school and in front of the school waiting to be dispatched as needed. Many of those buses are from the West Fargo School District.

Severson said he expects people to start arriving at the school around mid-morning.

Volunteers are starting to arrive at the school to help set up cots.

The school is willing to do whatever it can to help with the flood relief effort, Severson said.