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Published March 31 2010

Sandbag reversal: Cleanup process begins as rivers recede

John Huth is one of dozens of Fargo area residents hauling sandbags once again this week – but this time, it’s away from the water and toward the curb.

Fargo officials and residents are in cleanup mode now that the flood threat is over for this spring.

As of 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Red was observed at 30.77 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

The river is forecast to fall overnight back into moderate flood stage, or below 30 feet.

Other area rivers also continue to drop, including the Sheyenne and Wild Rice rivers.

Huth said he’s halfway finished moving the 3,000 sandbags placed behind his south Fargo home out to the curb for disposal.

“I’m trying to spread it out over six days,” he said as he took a quick break from his work Tuesday afternoon.

South Fargo neighborhoods – like Huth’s on River Drive – are speckled with piles of hundreds of sandbags lying on the side of city streets, awaiting pickup by city contractors.

Fargo plans to award bids today for sandbag and dike removal. Crews could be picking up sandbags as early as this weekend, Fargo City Planner Mark Williams said.

While residents are encouraged to do as much as they can in breaking down their sandbag levees, city officials are offering help through an assistance program.

Residents must submit an application by April 7. The city will assess residents’ needs and contract for the removal of sandbag levees, which will likely begin on April 19.

Meanwhile, clay dikes along the Red River in Fargo also could be gone within the next couple of weeks.

Contractors might begin tearing down the dikes as early as Thursday afternoon – beginning with the First Avenue bridge intersection and Second Street North in downtown Fargo, said Dave Johnson, senior city engineer.

“We gave them two weeks to get them all done,” Johnson said. “It’s going to take awhile. There’s a lot of material out there.”

Cass County already has begun picking up sandbags in communities along the Red and Wild Rice rivers.

More than a dozen friends and volunteers were helping to remove 3,000 sandbags from around Grace Hart’s home in the Forest River area south of Fargo. Nearby, Industrial Builders crews were hauling away sandbags for disposal.

“I understand when volunteers come out for the crisis, which is fantastic,” Hart’s daughter Terrie Hart Dahl said. “That’s ideal when there’s a crisis, but it’s the cleanup that shows the caring when people help.”

In Moorhead, city crews will begin picking up used sandbags as soon as possible and start dismantling clay levees today.

The work is expected to continue through the weekend and could be complete by early next week, weather permitting.

Master Construction, the contractor working on behalf of the city, will start its work in the area of 40th Avenue South and Horn Park.

After that, crews will move north through the remainder of the city.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541