Red River's second crest forecast gives cities a breakby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Residents of the Fargo-Moorhead area are back on the sandbag lines today. City officials called on volunteers once again, to fill thousands of sandbags in preparation for a second crest on the Red River next week. The prediction calls for lower water levels than the record that was set 11 days ago, but there's still some preparation to do.
Moorhead, Minn. — They'll need several hundred thousand sandbags to reinforce dikes on both sides of the river that have already withstood a record flood.
Truckloads of clay rumble through the streets of Fargo-Moorhead, but the pace of levee construction has slowed.
With the lower river crest prediction, to 38 or 40 feet, local officials decided to delay construction of some of the backup levees.
They'll decide early next week if they're needed, based on new information about rainfall and flood predictions.
"The caveat is again that good weather has to continue," said Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker. "So are we concerned? The only thing that could change their prediction is to have significant moisture."
Walaker defines significant moisture as more than 2 inches of rain. The forecast through early next week calls for only a slight chance of showers.
Walaker says a crest of 38 to 40 feet is still a very significant flood, but he's confident the city will be ready.
Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland says it's important for everyone to remember the river forecast has changed many times in the past couple of weeks.
He urged volunteers and homeowners to spend the rest of this week reinforcing the miles of sandbag dikes that are the city's first line of defense against the river.
"Think about what kind of weather we've had for sandbagging," Voxland said. "Thunderstorms, sleet storm, snow storm to almost a blizzard. Cold, bitter weather. It's over 40 degrees and sunny now. It's a darn good day to sandbag."
Voxland encourages residents to be prepared well in advance of an expected second crest late next week.
While preparation is vital, according to North Dakota's Department of Human Services medical director Dr. Andrew McLean, people need to slow down for the next few days.
"We talked about vigilance, and vigilance is important. Planning is important," McLean said. "But not necessarily hyper vigilance. We're not in a phase right now where it's danger. And you can't continue on this adrenaline rush. So taking care but not being over vigilant is important."
All the preparation for the second crest will need to be finished by this time next week.
Both cities were successful in gearing up for the first crest in just a week. City leaders say they're confident they'll be prepared for the second round.
- All Things Considered, 04/08/2009, 5:18 p.m.