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Wendy Reuer, Published April 22 2013

Moorhead to begin delivering sandbags Wednesday

MOORHEAD – The city will begin delivering sandbags to residents for levee construction Wednesday, with a goal to be finished with deliveries by the end of the day Sunday.

A series of neighborhood meetings were held Monday night where city leaders said about 375,700 sandbags will be needed to construct levees to 43 feet, the same level of protection the city of Fargo is preparing for.

Moorhead City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said Monday that the needed sandbags are considerably less than in the record 2009 flood when the Red River rose to 40.84 feet and 2.5 million sandbags were needed.

Zimmerman said the city has about 400,000 filled sandbags left over from the 2011 flood.

The city is setting up its spider machines this week, which, like the ones currently in use at Sandbag Central in Fargo, can fill about 18,000 sandbags per hour.

“It’s just a contingency plan. We don’t anticipate that we’ll need to use them,” Zimmerman said.

Unlike Fargo, Moorhead will not be opening a central sandbag operation within the city. Property owners will be asked to recruit family, friends and neighbors to help construct the levees. The city will help coordinate other volunteers who call the volunteer hotline at (218) 299-5107 and preregister.

Zimmerman said students will not be released from classes to help the sandbag effort.

The city will deliver sandbags on pallets and provide the machinery to unload the pallets curbside or on the boulevard. About 100,000 sandbags can be delivered per day.

Zimmerman said residents will be responsible for moving the sandbags from the curbs or boulevards to construct the levees.

The city will also provide plastic and provide measurement stakes for residents. City survey crews will begin visiting riverfront properties today.

“Don’t build (levees) in such a way you can’t add to it if you don’t build to 43 feet right away,” Zimmerman said.

Assistant City Engineer Tom Trowbridge said construction on clay levees can begin early this week on vacant and city-owned properties. He said the city will make a determination of where clay levees will be built after a deterministic flood forecast is released.

If the river rises to 41 feet, Zimmerman said that an estimated 110 homes would need protection at the 43-foot level; only about 38 homes will need protection if the river rises to 40 feet.

The city of Moorhead, as in years past, is divided into eight zones along the river with Zone 1 starting in the farthest north riverfront area to Zone 8 in the farthest south region.

Each zone is assigned a member of the city’s engineering staff as a leader, and residents should direct all questions to their zone leader for best communication, Zimmerman said.

For more flood information, call (218) 299-5300 or go online at www.cityofmoorhead.com/flood/.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530