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Heidi Shaffer, Published January 17 2011

Local leaders starting 2011 flood prep early

Flood preparation is getting started earlier than usual this year.

Local leaders met this morning with Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Rick Berg to hear about Fargo, West Fargo and the rest of Cass County are doing to brace for what spring may bring for flooding along the Red River and its tributaries.

“This is the third year in a row when we’ve had a really wet winter,” Hoeven said.

“We just wanted to make sure there’s a really well-coordinated effort all the way through,” he said.

The National Weather Service is set to release an updated flood forecast at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday. The December outlook called for a 50 percent chance the Red River in Fargo will reach 31.5 feet and a 10 percent chance it will hit 38.2 feet.

Major flood stage in Fargo is 30 feet. The 2009 record crest reached 40.8 feet.

Mayor Dennis Walaker said he doesn’t know how much Tuesday’s prediction will have changed but the early probability right now points to a flood.

“People have to understand we’re going to do what’s necessary to protect them,” he said.

Fargo plans to begin holding neighborhood meetings in February to ensure residents know what they need to do to protect property.

The city and county will also work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to possibly speed up some of the temporary protection projects that didn’t get finished before winter hit.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will also hold an informational flood insurance meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 in the Fargo Public Library.

West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern and Oxbow Mayor Jim Nyhof also attended the meeting. Sen. Kent Conrad had a representative attending the meeting.

For more on this story, read Tuesday’s Forum.

Inforum searchword: flooding

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511