The weather experts say the Red River is going to experience some serious flooding. The river may crest higher than it did in 1997. For many people, Red River flooding that means Fargo and Moorhead, but there are more cities -- quite a few more cities -- whose residents' ears perk up when you say "flood."
Here's a timeline I built a few years ago on the 10th anniversary of the flood of 1997. Notice how slowly the disaster developed.
There is one difference -- so far -- in the flood of '97 with the coming flood of '09. Back in '97, a heavy rainfall followed by an immediate freeze helped gum things up. That's why a forecast of rain in the region on Monday (or perhaps Sunday) is being so closely watched.
Fargo has already started its flood preparations, closing off flood gates in the city. Trash collection has been suspended and the city will start public meetings on Saturday on what's coming.
MPR's Than Tibbetts sends along this photo of volunteer efforts on Friday. They're trying to fill a million sandbags there.
Facebook is being used to find volunteers. In just a few days, the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Volunteer Network has attracted more than 1,500 members. The group is going to fill sandbags on Saturday (8 a.m. - 8 p.m.) in 3-4 hour shifts at the Fargodome parking lot.
Volunteers in Moorhead are gathering Saturday at the Nemzek Field House. (You must have an ID to fill sandbags, apparently). The city has already raised bridges in anticipation of the flood.
It's interesting to note that in a story on WDAY's website, the mayor of Wahpeton says, “If the river doesn't go up to 16, 17, 18 feet, I think we're gonna be fine.”
The current National Weather Service predictions are putting the expected crest at 17 feet.