River expected to crest at about 40 feet in Fargo

FARGO, N.D. (AP) âÄî New flood projections for Fargo gave city officials a shock âÄî not only because of a higher forecast for the Red River, but because they have only a little more than a week to prepare for its crest. The city is putting out a call for volunteers as it prepares for a crest of around 40 feet on March 28. Flood stage in Fargo is 18 feet and the major flooding level is 30 feet. Mayor Dennis Walaker estimates about 1.5 million sandbags will be needed for Fargo and about 800,000 more for Cass County. Walaker said he got the news from the National Weather Service on Wednesday afternoon. “It was kind of shocking âÄî not as much as the elevation was concerned, but moving this thing from the first week to second week in April, back to March 28,” Walaker said. “That really creates an awful lot of heat under our people and our staff.” The threat is increasing due to a storm moving in from the Pacific by early next week. Walaker said it appears to be taking the same track as a blizzard that hit the area last week, but with rain instead of snow. Fargo officials have identified 13 neighborhoods in Fargo along the Red River corridor and five along the city’s southwest side that need protection from overland flooding. Tim Bertschi, the Army Corps of Engineers resource manager, said dike work was starting Thursday to protect southwest Fargo and he expected work to start on the downtown area by Friday. City officials are hoping to have about 400 volunteers to start sandbagging efforts Friday. ___ Information from: KFGO-AM, http://kfgo.com