Regional flood roundup: Emergency levees in Fargo raised to 42 feet
Blizzard conditions in parts of North Dakota are adding to the flood worries in the Missouri and Red River valleys. And some communities in other parts of Minnesota are also facing potential flooding.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is raising the emergency levees in Fargo, N.D. to 42 feet. The corps, working with the City of Fargo, has a priority list of critical facilities in Fargo. The levees for these critical facilities will be raised to 43 feet.
Flooding has prompted several road closures in western Minnesota, including part of Interstate 94 in Moorhead.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation say it has closed I-94 between the Red River and Highway 75. It plans to build a dike south of the closed road.
Other closures include a small section of Highway 55 between Wendell and Elbow Lake, Highway 2 in Crookston at the 6th Street underpass, Highway 9 from Ada to Borup, Highway 200 from Ada to west Highway 75, and Highway 310 north of Roseau to the Canadian border.
Other roadways are expected to close later. The department is urging motorists to call 511 to check on road conditions before traveling in the west-central part of the state, or anywhere else where flooding is likely.
Work is under way to try to break up an ice jam on the Missouri River south of Bismarck that's leading to flooding.
Gov. John Hoeven says crews plan to drill holes in the ice, place explosives in them and detonate them. The governor says they hope to have the work done by early afternoon.
A demolition team brought in from Idaho is heading up the work. An Army Corps of Engineers expert on ice jams and the National Guard are assisting.
The hope is that breaking through the ice jam will allow water to flow through so it doesn't back up into neighborhoods along the river in southwest Bismarck.
Some people already have been evacuated. Authorities don't immediately have an estimate on the number -- though the Red Cross says only a couple dozen have registered at a local shelter.
But Bismarck City Commissioner Connie Sprynczynatyk says about 4,600 people live in the threatened area.
It's not just floodwaters that Fargo residents have to deal with -- now a snowstorm is hitting the area.
Three to four inches of snow already are on the ground. No travel is advised throughout southeastern North Dakota.
At least one house south of Fargo had to be evacuated early Wednesday because of the rising Red River.
A Cass County sheriff's lieutenant says a family evacuating their home needed help, so a boat was brought to them.
The latest forecast from the National Weather Services predicts the Red River to crest in Fargo-Moorhead at 41 feet sometime on Saturday. It was recorded at 33.93 feet early Wednesday.
An emergency dike to protect downtown Fargo was being raised to 42 feet, but the expected crest would still threaten several neighborhoods and hundreds of homes in lower areas.
Hundreds of volunteers were at work on another day of piling sandbags, with a goal of filling nearly 2 million.
"We don't see any fear," Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said. "We just see people working very hard."
Officials in Wahpeton breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday afternoon when they learned the Red River would crest at a lower level than expected. But just hours later they got a little scare.
Darcie Huwe, Wahpeton's finance director and interim city coordinator, says that at about 6 p.m., officials on routine patrols found a weak spot on the dry side of a dike along 3rd Avenue North. Huwe said water was weeping into a retention pond.
Officials moved into high gear and closed part of the city as they trucked in materials to strengthen the dike. They reinforced the dry side of the dike with clay, the wet side with sandbags.
Huwe says officials took the incident very seriously and they are remaining vigilant.
Rising water was a concern among some St. Cloud residents on Tuesday.
A faster-than-predicted rise of the Sauk River led to flood warnings and sandbagging in Cold Spring and Sartell. Stearns County also partially activated its emergency operations center Tuesday evening.
The National Weather Service says the Sauk River passed the 6-foot mark into flood stage Tuesday afternoon. By evening, it was 6.37 feet and rising.
The Mississippi River flirted with its flood stage of 9 feet: the gauge at St. Cloud State University recorded 8.97 feet.
In Crookston, about 50 miles northeast of Fargo, ice jams caused a sudden rise on the Red Lake and led city officials to ask about 200 people in low-lying areas to voluntarily evacuate. The city was working to raise its flood protection to withstand the river's crest later this week.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)