Flood volunteers critical as Fargo goes into full-bore flood-fighting mode
Fargo went into full-bore flood-fighting mode Monday, with clay levees being built and sandbags delivered to low areas on the south side. City leaders called for a big volunteer push this week to make sandbags and build dikes. "It's going to be '...
Fargo went into full-bore flood-fighting mode Monday, with clay levees being built and sandbags delivered to low areas on the south side.
City leaders called for a big volunteer push this week to make sandbags and build dikes.
"It's going to be 'ramp up and prepare' - that's going to be the term for today," City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said at a flood information meeting.
"This is for real," said Mayor Dennis Walaker.
Walaker said levees will be built to a Red River level of 38 feet plus 2 feet of freeboard, putting them to at least 40 feet citywide.
"Volunteers are critical," Walaker said, particularly with North Dakota State University students on spring break. "We need your help."
About 740,000 sandbags will be delivered by Wednesday, Mahoney said. The bags will be delivered around the clock, Fargo Fire Department public relations officer Jesse Schmidt said.
The push to finish those levees will be Wednesday through Friday, with an influx of student volunteers from Fargo's public and private schools. The first neighborhoods to get bags will be Harwood Groves, Hackberry Drive, River Drive and River Vili.
Shuttles will start running today from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at First Assembly of God Church, 3401 25th St. S., taking volunteers to areas needing dikes built.
Police Chief Keith Ternes asked that residents stay off 25th Street from Main Avenue to 32nd Avenue South so convoys of semis with sandbags can move quickly and safely.
Drivers were also urged to take care as heavy trucks began hauling the tons of clay to build levees, including the Second Street and senior High Rise levees downtown. Work is also under way in Oak Grove, Timberline and along Rose Coulee and Drain 27.
Crews are digging clay from "borrow pits" near University Drive, just off 64th Avenue South and 37th Avenue North.
The clay, when wet, can make stopping a vehicle more difficult, Ternes said.
Streets in some areas will be turned into one-ways, and parking will be banned to get sandbags and volunteers in and out of some areas, Ternes said.
Homeowners are asked to drain sump pumps outside to ease stress on the water system, officials said.
North Dakota National Guard soldiers and airmen will join the Fargo flood fight today, officials said.
City residents who need information can call (701) 476-4199.
Operations at Sandbag Central expanded to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. While the original goal was to make 1 million bags, officials will continue operations beyond that mark.
Volunteers should go to the Coliseum, 807 17th Ave. N., and take a shuttle to Sandbag Central.
Walaker said he didn't plan to restrict businesses from staying open yet.
"We will reserve the right to close down businesses," Walaker said. "This is an emergency. We will do what we have to do to protect the public."
Walaker said breaches in the levees could threaten any number of the city's 27,000 pieces of property and cripple its water and sewer infrastructure.
"Hopefully, Saturday it's time for the champagne and lighting the cigars, but it's not the time today," Walaker said.