FLOOD UPDATE: Fargo seeks another strong flood volunteer turnout, concerns rise over Red's tributaries
FARGO - Flood fight leaders called on volunteers for a strong turnout today, expecting efforts in Fargo to focus on placing sandbags and finishing clay levees.
They were buoyed by the turnout Tuesday, particularly by more than 1,200 high school students, but officials are concerned about the Wild Rice River cresting about the time of the Red River's crest.
The Wild Rice, which drains into the Red south of Fargo, is a significant cause of overland flooding south of the city.
The water flows north overland into drains that enter the city's southern stretches, prompting mild concerns among officials.
City Engineer Mark Bittner said the city will continue to monitor the Wild Rice, which is expected to reach 25 feet by Friday and hold steady. The Red, which topped major flood stage of 30 feet this morning, is expected to reach 38 feet by Sunday.
"We need to continue our vigilance in everything we do," Mayor Dennis Walaker said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota National Guard are positioned throughout the area, ready to fight flooding.
The Sheyenne River also continues to build. It enters the Red north of Fargo, and significant overland flooding may occur if both rivers are high at the same time.
Water spilling out of the Red's tributaries can cause significant concerns for rural residents. If water from the Wild Rice and Sheyenne rivers can't empty into the Red, then water begins to back up, Walaker said.
Residential sandbagging is about 50 percent finished in Fargo, City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said this morning. The city wants to spend the next two days finishing the work, with much of the sandbagging and levee work expected in a few south Fargo neighborhoods and city's northern stretches.
Another 1,600 students from Fargo schools plan to volunteer, but officials said residents need to aid in the push to build levees.
"We need that again today," Fargo Planning Director Jim Gilmour said.
Dike construction overnight Tuesday made significant progress, prompting city officials to use less Hesco sand barriers and Big Bags than anticipated.
Clay levees also are mostly in place, although some work remains. Police Chief Keith Ternes said there's a travel advisory for Fargo's Seventh Avenue North as motorists are asked to stay off the street to allow trucks hauling clay to move more easily.
Enterprise Director Bruce Grubb said the city has produced 935,000 sandbags so far. He expects to reach the city's goal of 1 million sandbags by 5 p.m.
"I would certainly like to thank all the volunteers who came by and helped us," Grubb said.
With the exception of a single shipment of 1,000 sandbags, the city has distributed filled sandbags to the most threatened neighborhoods