Sandbag Central cranks up again
Sandbag Central is open for business in Grand Forks. The race to build sandbag dikes to protect homes in the Burke Addition, a subdivision south of Grand Forks, and the threat of flooding elsewhere in the county triggered officials to start aroun...
Sandbag Central is open for business in Grand Forks.
The race to build sandbag dikes to protect homes in the Burke Addition, a subdivision south of Grand Forks, and the threat of flooding elsewhere in the county triggered officials to start around-the-clock production of sandbags in the city's public works building, 724 N. 47th St.
"Once we start, we'll go as long as we need to," public works director Todd Feland said.
Feland said sandbags will be filled using the city's two four-bag machines and with shovels. The city's eight-bag machine, or "Spiderman," is in Fargo, aiding the flood fight there, he said.
At an emergency meeting this afternoon, the county commission voted to accept the city's offer to open Sandbag Central. County residents are eligible to receive for free as many sandbags as they need, the commission decided.
"This one is so unique at this point I don't think we have a choice but to be there to help," Commissioner John Schmisek said.
The city will bus volunteers to where they're needed and facilitate the filling of sandbags. The county's Emergency Operations Center will order sand, hire contractors, field calls from volunteers and those in need of sandbags, as well as track money spent.
The county has $750,000 in emergency funds. County emergency manager Jim Campbell estimated cranking up Sandbag Central to produce 200,000 sandbags would cost at least $53,000, a price tag that doesn't include paying contractors to transport the bags.
As the flood situation changes, Feland said, the hours of Sandbag Central could be scaled back.
Campbell told commissioners a plan was in place to bus volunteers from the Alerus Center to the Burke Addition on Wednesday, but the storm threw a wrench into the plan.
"We were ahead of the fight coming through evening and then the weather hit," said Steve Waznick, one of many Burke Addition residents who attended the standing-room-only meeting.
Waznick said residents of the addition and others sandbagging are "walking around with two feet of snow. They're on slippery dikes made of sandbags with poly over them and add snow to that -- that's a hazard."
A flood of volunteers, including the UND football team, went to the aid of the Burke Addition on Wednesday. So many that roads leading to the sandbagging areas were blocked by volunteers' parked vehicles. Deputies responded to sort out the situation.
"Right now, our biggest thing is where to put all the volunteers that are so graciously offered to help us and where to put them safely," Waznick said.
Aside from the Burke Addition, the EOC received calls Wednesday from concerned residents in the Fox Farm Addition, north of Grand Forks. Campbell said he expects residents of Turtle River Township to start calling soon.
"The weather is what has really stopped people from helping themselves," he said.