Rising waters slow on Red River, but high crest still expectedby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Fargo, N.D. — The rise of flood waters on the Red River has started to slow down, but forecasters still expect a crest this weekend of 39.5 feet.
That crest would be a foot below the 2009 all-time flood record, but the third highest ever.
Fargo and Moorhead are both done constructing temporary sandbag dikes to hold back the rising river.
Forecasters are watching a storm they say will reach the Red River valley late on Saturday. Mark Ewens said thunderstorms with locally heavy rains may be a part of that weather system.
"The primary impact would be that it would keep the crest [high], which would be moving in through the Fargo-Moorhead areas during the Saturday/Sunday timeframe," Ewens said. "Of course we don't need to have high water on the dikes any longer than necessary, but that's most likely going to be a reality for some time."
It's still unclear just how much precipitation could come from the storm, but forecasters have been saying between a half an inch and an inch could fall.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple met with Fargo officials this Friday morning, while President Obama issued an emergency declaration for the region yesterday. Dalrymple would prefer a major disaster declaration because that frees up federal assistance money.
"We are being told that there is a new policy where they are holding off on the major declaration until they see the extent of the event," Dalrymple said. "Then they come back and add up damages and participate in costs; we don't' think that's a very good way of doing things."
Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney says monitoring is now vital.
"If water gets on the dike and you get a leak, it can really go fast with the velocity we have of the river right now," Mahoney said. "... constant vigilance is what we want in the next three days."
Nearly 400 members of North Dakota National Guard are on the Fargo side of the river to monitor the dikes and levees.
City officials in Moorhead say too many residents are still discharging sump pump water from their homes into the city's sewer system.
City manager Mike Redlinger said that can pose a problem as the waters of the Red River continue a slow rise to anticipated crest this weekend.
"We are seeing some really high flows [and] we know they're coming from the sump pumps," Redlinger said. "What we'd like to see is this discharge sent directly outside the home."
Redlinger urges residents to get the sump pump issue resolved since the warm weekend weather will unfreeze lines.
Residents are supposed to divert sump pump flows to outside their homes beginning April 1 so they don't tax the sewer system during flood season.
- Morning Edition, 04/08/2011, 7:45 a.m.