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Helmut Schmidt, Published March 03 2010

Good feedback at first of flood meetings

Plans to build a series of long-term clay levees along the Red River, Rose Coulee and county drains in Fargo drew good feedback Tuesday night at the first of a series of meetings planned with residents in areas that will be at the forefront of this year’s flood fight.

Residents from the southside Timberline subdivision and the Riverwood and 10th Street North and River Oaks areas sounded ready for a change from frantic sandbagging, particularly with the prospect of another major flood in coming weeks.

“Hescos, sandbagging, that gets old,” Timberline resident Tim Pflugrath said.

“It seems like a good idea,” said Brian Harmsen. He and his wife, Wendy, said something is needed to protect their neighborhood until a long-term fix is in place for the metro area.

City officials said the clay levees, which could be in place for a decade, must be started soon.

“We have to be in there before the water comes up,” City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said.

The flood meetings, which will all be held in Centennial Hall at the Civic Center, were called to gauge reaction to the levee plans, and to be sure residents get as much information as possible before the flood fight gets under way.

Residents were introduced to the engineers and technicians who will coordinate their flood fights. They also looked over flood-fighting kits, got information on pumps, sandbagging and health concerns, and looked at detailed maps of where levees would be built.

“They’re really being proactive this year,” Harmsen said. “Until a permanent solution can be found out, we’ll just have to keep doing what we do.”

City Senior Engineer April Walker said the clay levees will make protecting the city much easier.

Last year, Fargo built 52 miles of flood protection: 29 miles of clay levees in the city limits, five miles of clay levees in the county, eight miles of Hesco barriers, 10 miles of sandbags (nearly 3 million in all), and 0.3 miles of Portadam, she said.

Walker said leaving the levees in place will save time and effort. A 39-foot flood on the Red River requires 24,000 sandbags in Timberline, but a 41-foot flood requires 182,900 bags. A 43-foot flood would require a whopping 461,400 bags, she said.

City officials also met Tuesday with residents from Kandi Lane to Fourth Avenue North.

Upcoming flood meetings

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583