Sandbagging starts in earnest today in Fargo
Volunteer sandbaggers in Fargo and Moorhead dig in bright and early this morning, tossing shovelfuls of sand that amount to the first salvos in yet another effort to hold back a river primed to cause problems.
In Moorhead, plans call for preparing 300,000 sandbags. In Fargo, the aim is to fill 1 million bags.
That's enough to bolster the banks of both cities for a flood of 38 feet, a height nearly 3 feet below 2009's record crest of 40.84 feet on the Red River - a memory fresh enough to make sandbagging again seem like a cruel case of déjà vu.
It will depends on melting patterns and rainfall in the next month, but forecasters say there's a 1-in-4 chance that this year's spring crest could be just as high as last year's. It's set to be the unwanted encore, a reprisal coming before the recovery ends.
So the straining, monotonous work must begin, bags readied as bricks in the lines of defense that go where clay dikes can't. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's equally tough to imagine people here failing to meet the challenge.