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Published June 04 2010

Fargo secures sandbag storage

The city of Fargo will pay nearly $13,000 a month for warehouse space over the next year to store the bulk of 370,000 unused sandbags from this spring’s flood fight.

About 350,000 bags have sat since mid-April on pallets in a parking lot off 28th Street, the top layer exposed to ultraviolet rays that break down the bags.

The other 20,000 bags are shrink-wrapped on pallets outside the city’s solid-waste building.

Most of the bags will soon be moved to a warehouse at 909 25th St. N., said Terry Ludlum, the city’s solid-waste utility manager.

Earlier this week, the City Commission voted to lease the space for one year at $12,890 per month from Barrier Lake Investment.

The annual cost will be about half of the $303,400 that city officials estimate it would cost to reproduce the 370,000 filled sandbags.

“It’s the first test ... to see if we can save them from year to year,” Mayor Dennis Walaker said.

In the event of another flood next spring, the stored bags will save on the type of manpower expended during the city’s back-to-back flood battles in 2009 and 2010, he said.

“People remember too well what happened the year before, and they’re tired, and I don’t blame them,” he said.

The warehouse was chosen because of its 20,200 square feet of floor space, proximity to sandbag central at 2301 8th Ave. N. and ability to serve as a secondary sandbag production facility if needed in 2011.

The city obtained quotes on two other buildings, but one building was found to be structurally unsuitable, and the other building was deemed too small.

Officials planned to meet Thursday to figure out how to transport the bags to the warehouse, Ludlum said.

It’s not known exactly how many sandbags will fit in the warehouse, he said, adding that a structural analysis showed the floor can support the weight of pallets stacked two high.

The bags that don’t fit will be shrink-wrapped, covered and stored outside at the old city landfill or solid-waste facility, he said.

Ludlum said he inspected the sandbags last week and was unable to push his finger through the plastic bags or easily tear them.

“I’m not seeing any degradation at all,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528