Helmut Schmidt, Published March 17 2010
Fargo leaders urge volunteers to keep building up defenses
“Looks good out there. I’ve seen a lot worse,” he said.
“In reality, things look better than I anticipated,” he said, adding that the fields are probably 70 percent clear of snow.
“I thought that was a big improvement from what it was early in the week,” Walaker said.
But Walaker sticks by the city’s call for 2,000 to 3,000 volunteers on the sandbag lines today through Friday, to ensure Fargo can defend against a crest of 38 feet on the Red River, now expected Sunday.
“ ‘Get our defenses up’ is the word of the day,” City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said.
The effort got a boost Tuesday from 1,200 Fargo and West Fargo students making sandbags and building dikes.
Gov. John Hoeven and Walaker thanked the volunteers, particularly the area’s young people.
“They are doing a fantastic job,” Hoeven said.
Helping defend the city is the state National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Dave Sprynczynatyk, the Guard’s adjutant general, said 300 airmen and soldiers are working traffic control at 17 or 18 spots, guarding supplies for neighborhoods. Two-hundred Guard members are placing sandbags.
Walaker said the Red crested a foot lower than expected in Wahpeton, N.D., which is a good portent for Fargo.
“Are we optimistic that this is going to be the high? I think so,” Walaker said of the forecast for the Red to crest at 38 feet. “In fact, I think it will come in below 38 feet.”
The next three days will determine whether this flood fight is successful, Walaker said.
“If we can get everything accomplished by Friday night, I think we’re going to weather the storm.”
As of 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Red was at 28.96 feet, the National Weather Service reported.
Enterprise Director Bruce Grubb said the city should hit its goal of 1 million sandbags today. After that, sandbag-making will be halted and volunteers asked to head out to build dikes.
Mahoney said 250,000 sandbags will be in reserve to bolster weak spots or build levees higher.
The river channel north of Fargo’s wastewater treatment plant is free of ice for seven or eight miles, Walaker said. South of the city, the ice hasn’t broken up, but is rotten.
In other news:
- Fargo is partnering with Dakota Medical Foundation and Impact Foundation for the Spirit of Fargo Flood Fund, which helps individuals and groups recover from flood losses.
Dakota Medical Foundation will match the first $40,000 in donations.
Donate online at www.spiritoffargo.com or by check at: Spirit of Fargo Flood Fund, 4152 30th Ave. S,, Suite 102, Fargo, ND 58104.
- Main delivery routes for dike materials will be 25th Street South and Seventh Avenue North. The traveling public is asked to avoid those routes.
Commuters are also asked to avoid Fourth Street North in the downtown area to prevent congestion.
- The Guard will have light and heavy quick response teams. The light teams will offer faster response, while the heavy teams will have more equipment and resources.
- Fargo Flood Information Hotline (701) 476-4199. For answers to questions about property, river levels and other general flood-related inquiries.
- Fargo Volunteer Hotline: (701) 476-4000. All volunteer-related questions.
Several 24-hour hotlines are set up for area residents to get information:
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583
Forum editor Steven Wagner contributed to this article.