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Laney: Federal agencies aren't coming to help in flood fight

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Laney: Federal agencies aren't coming to help in flood fight
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

WEST FARGO - Local authorities won't have the federal help they've had during past floods, Sheriff Paul Laney said this morning at the first briefing of Cass County's emergency response team.

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Likely because the federal emergency declaration hasn't been signed yet by President Obama, assistance through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection hasn't been activated to help in the Red River Valley flood fight, Laney said.

The only federal agency that's expected to help is the U.S. Coast Guard, which operates under different guidelines, Laney said.

Members of the Coast Guard are expected in town by Friday, along with two airboats and two helicopters, he said.

Laney said another factor behind the lack of aid might be the potential government shutdown due to budget disagreements in Congress.

Nonetheless, Cass County Sheriff's deputies will be stretched thin for this year's flood fight, Laney said.

Basic operations for the county - such as the courthouse and jail - will be staffed at the "bare minimum," while every available deputy will be deployed for the flood fight, Laney said.

"We'll solve it ourselves," Laney said. "Is it a wrinkle? Yes, but we've got good people and we'll get it done."

Without the aid of the federal agencies, Cass County deputies will be without as many as 70 extra bodies to help them survey the 1,700 square miles of the county.

Additionally, the number of available airboats to patrol the area's rivers will be cut in half, down to six.

Cass County will have their two airboats it recently acquired, the Coast Guard is contributing two, and Mercer and Burleigh counties each contributed one.

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