Red River crest pushed back to Sunday; residents readyby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Fargo, N.D. — The National Weather Service has pushed back the expected crest of the Red River in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., area from Saturday to Sunday.
The new projection shows the river cresting at 20 feet above flood stage on Sunday morning. Weather service spokesman Bill Barrett says there is still snowmelt in some of the tributaries that has yet to get into the system.
Local residents say they will be prepared for the high water, thanks to hundreds of volunteers who spent the day Tuesday helping homeowners build sandbag dikes in Fargo and Moorhead.
In neighborhoods all over the two cities, trucks dumped hundreds of sandbags onto streets and driveways, for residents to use to protect their homes.
One load of bags was delivered to a neighborhood along Rivershore Drive in south Moorhead. In a few hours, volunteers turned the jumbled pile of 30-pound sandbags into a neatly stacked four-foot tall dike.
College students covered in mud and sand have finished stacking the bags in Barb Sipson's backyard.
This is the fourth flood for Sipson and her husband Roger since they moved here in 1995. She's still tired from fighting last year's record flood.
"This was really hard, to come back and get emotionally geared up again to do it," said Sipson. "It's just so emotionally draining because it's nothing you can control. You have no control. It's whatever the fates decide to deliver. That's the big hard part of it."
The worry reflected in the faces of homeowners is in stark contrast to the excitement in the voices of students like Kylie Abrahamson.
"Somebody's got to save the city," said Abrahamson, a Concordia College senior from Brainerd.
She spent nearly two weeks sandbagging during last year's record flood, and couldn't wait to get back on the sandbag line this year.
"It definitely gives you a sense of pride and unity when you know you helped save your community," said Abrahamson. "We all sandbagged in Fargo, Moorhead, all over last year. This year we're just starting here right now."
Concordia students were given a one-day break from classes to help sandbag. Senior Kendra Larson doesn't want to go back to class.
"It's very hard to sit in class and try to do homework when you know there's people that need help," said Larson. "I have a test tomorrow and Thursday, and I'd really love an extension. I don't want to try to study tonight. I'd rather be out sandbagging."
A few doors down on Rivershore Drive, students are just about done laying 35 tons of sandbags, four feet deep, across Richard Pemble's patio.
This is Pemble's sixth flood fight in 25 years. Last year he had four and a half feet of water in the lower level of his home. Flood insurance paid for most of the repairs.
But this could be Pemble's last flood fight. Like many homes on Rivershore Drive, his is on a city buyout list. Despite the yearly flood danger, Pemble says it's sad to think of leaving his neighbors.
"They're really just amazing. So if we sold our home, the thing we'd miss the most are neighbors," said Pemble. "We'd miss this environment. We love being by the river. But we're really going to miss our neighbors. I don't know where you find better people."
Most of the sandbag dikes on Rivershore Drive should be completed Wednesday.
City officials in Fargo and Moorhead expect to have all of the emergency dikes built by Friday, in preparation for an expected crest on the Red River sometime Sunday.