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Published April 08 2011

UPDATED FLOOD NEWS: Fargo to deploy more sandbags as precautionary measure ahead of potential weekend rain

FARGO – As the Red River slows its ascent, Fargo leaders said they won’t be taking chances on impacts a potential weekend storm could have on flooding.

“We will be deploying sandbags to all the neighborhoods that have them,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said. “They are strictly a contingency plan.”

Walaker said officials don’t want the sandbags placed unless the city alerts residents to build up levees.

“They are not to be used unless we issue a CodeRed or something,” the mayor said.

Walaker also warned residents against complacency, a concern after Commissioner Tim Mahoney reported it look as though few people were up and keeping an eye on dikes overnight.

“We need everyone to be extremely vigilant for the next three or four or five days,” Walaker said. “Everybody thinks this is a walk in the park. It isn’t.”

The Red was at 38.23 feet at 1:15 p.m. as it continues to climb, and overnight it surpassed previous flood crests in 1969, 2006 and 2010. The National Weather Service forecasts the Red to reach 39.5 feet on Sunday and remain at that level throughout the day before dipping. The Fargo-Moorhead area also could receive nearly an inch of rain Saturday through Sunday night.

“We are probably going to have the third highest crest in 125 years,” said Walaker, adding words can’t express the city’s gratitude to students who have helped in the flood fight.

Today, city crews will deliver 235,000 sandbags to neighborhoods.

“In light of the potential forecast of rain Sunday and Monday," said Bruce Grubb, the city's enterprise director. "We want a sufficient number of bags in the neighborhoods if we need them."

Earlier this week, Fargo delivered about 630,000 sandbags to neighborhoods, with about 510,000 of those being stacked to build levees to 41 feet. The 41-foot dikes allow for one foot of freeboard above the high range of predicted crest, which was narrowed Thursday by the weather service to 39 to 40 feet.

“We’d like to have them in the neighborhoods and ready to go," Mahoney said. “It’s just to be prepared.”

In addition, Mahoney said neighbors need to check the dikes on a 24-hour basis.

Here's a look at the weather service's seven-day forecast:

Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 59. South wind between 9 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Tonight: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. Southeast wind at 11 mph becoming west.

Saturday: A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 60. Calm wind becoming southeast between 5 and 8 mph. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Saturday Night: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 39. North wind between 9 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Sunday: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 51. North northwest wind between 14 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Sunday Night: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy and breezy, with a low around 37. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 55.

Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 37.

Tuesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 59.

Tuesday Night: A slight chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36.

Wednesday: A slight chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 51.

Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 35.

Thursday: A slight chance of rain. Mostly sunny, with a high near 51.