Corps raising earthen levees in Fargo

FARGO, N.D. (AP) âÄî Work has begun to raise levees in Fargo from 43 to 44 feet to protect against a second Red River flood crest expected later this month. City officials said residents may have to raise sandbag dikes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday it will raise many of its earthen dikes built in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., areas before the river crested on March 28. The Corps built about 30 miles of emergency levees. Darrell Morey, a Corps engineer, said it’s important to get a head start on the project. “From an engineering standpoint, you always want to be ahead of the game, rather than chasing the water as it comes up,” Morey said. “Some people may not like what the weather service says, but you can’t afford to wait and see.” The Red River crested at a record 40.82 feet, and Fargo and Moorhead largely escaped damage from the river’s high water thanks to its reinforced dikes and levees. But the National Weather Service warned soon after the crest passed that a second possibly dangerous crest would arrive by late April. The weather service said there’s a 75 percent chance that the river will reach or surpass 41 feet. There’s a 25 percent chance it will reach 42.8 feet or higher. Some levees must be widened before they can be raised, Morey said. “It’s not a piece of cake. In fact, it’s more difficult to raise it 1 foot than it would be if we built it to 44 feet in the first place,” Morey said. “But it’s not an insurmountable task either.” Additional backup levees are planned in Fargo and Moorhead, city officials said. Sandbags were being delivered to some Fargo neighborhoods on Monday, but city officials have not asked residents to raise their dikes from 43 to 44 feet. Engineers were checking on the conditions of those dikes, said Tim Mahoney, Fargo city commissioner. “We will be prepared if we have to go to 44, but what we would like to do is give people a little breather,” Mahoney said.