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Erik Burgess, Published April 11 2013

City to use temporary levee, not sandbags, in Oakcreek

FARGO – The city will protect eight city-owned homes in the flood-prone Oakcreek neighborhood this year by using a rapidly deployable levee, not sandbags.

The City Commission decided during a special meeting Thursday to use TrapBags after hearing concerns earlier this week that some residents in the south Fargo neighborhood believe volunteers would not show up to sandbag city-owned properties.

It will cost about $100,000 and take one or two days to install the TrapBags, a flood barrier made of large, open-faced bags that are filled with sand. No homes will be demolished to install the barrier, but some decks and gazebos will have to be removed.

About 1,200 feet of TrapBags will be used in Oakcreek for the primary line of protection up to 40.8 feet, said City Engineer April Walker. About a foot of sandbags can be thrown on top of the bags if necessary, she said.

Commissioners decided to set up the TrapBags after the National Weather Service issued a deterministic flood forecast.

Walker said she isn’t worried about volunteers showing up, but the city moved forward with the TrapBag plan to alleviate the concerns of the neighborhood.

High school students will be brought into the neighborhood to help sandbag, city officials say.

The city will also work on the sanitary sewer system for the 14 homes along the creek, which will prevent floodwaters from entering the city’s main sewer line, said Nathan Boerboom, division engineer for the city of Fargo.

The sewer work will allow the city to set up a TrapBag contingency levee down the creekside portion of Oakcreek Drive instead of along 25th Street if the primary line of defense is compromised.

The sewer work likely will take about 14 days. Walker said current bids are between $60,000 and $80,000 for the work. Commissioners directed her to seek a lower bid before beginning the work.

The Oakcreek area has required heavy sandbagging efforts in recent floods, leading the city to buy out eight homes with a long-term plan to remove them and build a permanent earthen levee along the creek.

The city was planning to buy out and remove 10 more homes along the creek in Oakcreek and nearby Copperfield Court, but some Oakcreek residents recently asked the city to reconsider demolishing those homes.

Mayor Dennis Walaker said a final plan to move forward with permanent protection for Oakcreek will likely come soon.

Walaker and other commissioners have expressed the desire to keep the creekside homes and build floodwalls behind them if possible and if the neighborhood can reach a consensus.

Commissioners also approved bids to set up rapidly deployable levees north of Jack Williams Stadium and on Fifth Street South, south of Interstate 94 if needed.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518