Fargo polishes flood preparation, waits for crest

The city focuses its effort to finish barriers and secure vulnerable areas.

Fargo, N.D.âÄîAnother south Fargo neighborhood was forced to evacuate during the night due to potential breaches in the dike. This bad news did not detract from the general enthusiasm at the Friday morning flood planning meeting. City officials announced the Red River’s rise has slowed. The water is now expected to reach 41.5 feet, which is an improvement since Thursday night. Dikes will no longer need an extra foot âÄî instead, National Guardsmen will focus on reinforcing levees, building contingency dikes and monitoring evacuated areas, officials said. Mark Bittner, Fargo city engineer, said inspectors will travel all across the city to check heights of levees to ensure they are a âÄúfirm 43 feet.âÄù According to Maj. Gen. David A. Sprynczynatyc , adjutant general in the North Dakota National Guard, the number of guardsmen will reach 1,700 by Friday afternoon. Personnel have been called in from across North Dakota as well as South Dakota. Troops are prepared to fill whatever role is required of them, Sprynczynatyc said. The cold weather has made sandbagging difficult, Mayor Dennis Walaker said, because the sandbags freeze before they are placed in the man-made barrier. âÄúWe were basically working with frozen turkeys last night,âÄù Walaker said. However, Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney took an optimistic view of the inclement weather, saying the cold is a âÄúbreakâÄù because of the way it seems to have slowed down the river. Officials were asking volunteers to call the volunteer hotline before venturing to sandbagging sites because it is not clear whether or not they will be needed anywhere except sandbag filling stations. Roads are also being shut down to make way for sand and dirt trucks to transport contents quickly and efficiently, officials said. Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said police and guard were deployed to block off âÄúmain thoroughfares.âÄù Walaker requested that Fargo residents keep non-essential travel to a minimum so that the streets are clear for flood fighting efforts. Non-essential businesses were also urged to close. Coffee shops and restaurants all around Fargo and Moorhead posted signs announcing they will be closed until further notice.