Red River crest revised downwardby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Moorhead, Minn. — The projected crest of the Red River at Fargo, N.D., has dropped a half-foot, which is good news for a city braced for flooding.
The National Weather Service revised its projection Friday to show the Red at 37.5 feet above the flood stage by Sunday morning. That's down from an earlier forecast of 38 feet.
Spokesman Mark Frazier says models suggest water levels should decline slowly but steadily after the crest, though flooding from the river could continue to threaten homes and roads much of next week.
He says it's doubtful that another flood this large will happen in the Fargo area this season, though heavy spring rains could cause temporary bumps because the land will remain saturated for a while.
Overland flooding is now cutting off rural homes north and west of Fargo. Law enforcement response teams will check out some rural areas Friday, where access to farms and homes will soon be cut off.
Cass County, N.D., Sheriff Paul Laney says they're anticipating problem areas to develop over the next couple of days, but everyone is well prepared.
"We're still in a critical flood fight, no doubt about that. But a very different fight. You know last year we were chasing it, this year we're kind of ahead of it and waiting for it," said Laney. "Good feeling, good place to be. A lot of pre-planning, a lot of lessons learned and we're sitting pretty good."
Local officials are asking people to stay away from earthen levees and sandbag dikes.
Fargo Police Chief Keith Terness says police officers and National Guard troops are patrolling levees.
"The officers out and about have not seen any sightseers they've had to chase off the dikes," said Terness. "The cooperation we're getting from the general public in staying away from those areas and staying off the levees has been tremendous."
Because the city is under a state of emergency, police can arrest anyone who violates the order to stay off of levees.
U.S. Coast Guard emergency response crews have begun patrolling communities and rural areas outside of Fargo looking for any stranded residents.
Spokesman Lionel Bryant says the Coast Guard has dedicated about 50 people, three airboats and two helicopters for the flood effort.
Bryant says Coast Guard crew members plucked several people from floodwaters last year in the area, but no one has needed rescue so far this year.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)