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Erik Burgess, Published April 19 2013

Walaker says city, county 'in tune' and well-prepared for flood

FARGO –Fargo and Cass County leaders are well-prepared for whatever flooding hits the area, they said Friday during a flood preparation meeting.

Mayor Dennis Walaker said that while a 38-foot Red River crest is “probably a given” this spring, he feels better now than he did Thursday after an update from Fargo and Cass County officials.

“Everybody’s in tune,” Walaker said. “We will do what’s necessary to protect ourselves.”

Fargo now has a 40 percent chance of seeing a flood of record this spring, according to an updated outlook given earlier this week by the National Weather Service. The river is expected to crest between 38 and 42 feet in Fargo-Moorhead.

The current flood of record was in 2009, when the Red crested at 40.84 feet.

Sandbag Central will remain open until Wednesday to complete a goal of filling about 500,000 new bags as the city prepares to build levees up to 43 feet, protecting against a 42-foot flood with 1 foot of freeboard, Walaker said.

Sandbag deployment in Fargo begins Tuesday and will take about three days, said Bruce Grubb, the city’s enterprise director.

North Fargo will have bags delivered Tuesday, followed by the central part of the city on Wednesday and the south side on Thursday, he said.

High school students will be brought out to lay sandbags Thursday and Friday, said City Engineer April Walker. Over the weekend of April 27-28, neighborhoods will be asked to continue the work and high school students could return the following week if needed, she said.

City officials said high school students usually must return to class around 1:30 p.m., so other volunteers will be called on after that time to help lay sandbags.

TrapBag dikes will also be deployed starting Monday, with one going up at the entrance of Edgewood Golf Course to the clubhouse and another south of Interstate 94 on Fifth Street South.

County officials advise residents along the Sheyenne River to prepare for a flood like those seen in 1997 and 2011.

“In the next week, things are going to happen real fast,” County Commissioner Ken Pawluk said.

A three-day levee construction process in Cass County subdivisions begins Tuesday, County Administrator Keith Berndt said. The county will begin delivering sandbags to rural residents on Monday.

Pawluk said the county is likely to make 200,000 more sandbags to add to its reserve of about 500,000 bags.

A flood information line is set up at (701) 476-4199. Volunteers should call (701) 476-4000. Residents who are concerned about the safety of a vulnerable citizen during the flood can call (701) 476-4016.

The main desk at the Emergency Operations Center, which opened Friday at 10 a.m., is (701) 476-4005.

There will be a special Fargo City Commission meeting at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss flood issues. Two flood preparation meetings are scheduled at 8 a.m. Wednesday and Friday in the City Commission Room at City Hall.

Several road closures and restrictions will go into effect Sunday and Monday due to flood work, according to a release from the city of Fargo.

Starting at noon on Sunday:

• University Drive will be closed between 32nd and 40th avenues north, but open to local traffic for access to Riviera Heights.

• 36th Avenue North will be closed between University Drive and 10th Street North, but open to local traffic for access to homes.

• Speeds will be reduced on University Drive south of 64th Avenue South due to heavy truck traffic.

• Northbound traffic on 45th Street will be reduced to one lane between Seventh Avenue North and 12th Avenue North. Heavy truck traffic and speeds will be reduced to 25 mph.

• Oak Street will be closed between Eighth and 11th avenues north.

• Lindenwood Drive will be closed between 17th Avenue and Third Street South.

• On-street parking will be restricted in the Oak Grove area for sandbag delivery and placement.

On Monday:

• Fifth Street South will be closed between 17th and 24th avenues south starting at 8:30 a.m.

• Starting at 10 a.m., on-street parking will be restricted on Elm Circle North and it will be converted into a one-way.

• Starting at 10 a.m., on-street parking will be restricted on Woodcrest Drive, 42nd Avenue North and 41st Avenue North east of 10th Street North, South River Drive, Third Street South and Linden Avenue South in the Belmont Park area. The entire Riverwood area will be closed to through traffic.

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