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Proactive stance best measure regarding potential flood threat

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opinion Fargo, 58102

Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

A week ago West Fargo City Commissioners declared a flood emergency for the city of West Fargo (following Fargo's and Cass County's earlier leads) as a proactive measure in the wake of the significant amount of snowfall that has accumulated to the present contributing to the potential for severe flooding.

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The declaration stated that "mitigation measures, preparedness actions, and other response to this spring's flood must begin immediately," in doing so activating applicable emergency operation plans "to save lives, protect public health and safety and improved property."

This move will also allow officials to begin the process of securing federal funding for any possible expenditures from a flood fight which last time totaled approximately $380,000 for flood prevention, equipment and meetings, of which $250,000 was secured from FEMA.

As Mayor Rich Mattern stated last week, "open lines of communication" will be key to seeing this process through from beginning to end.

Consequently, the goal of city commissioners and other city staff is to once again get the message out early this year about activities involved with pre-planning for any potential flooding and what the order of protocol will be for addressing specific issues and areas, so that residents can rest easier.

In the past there have been issues during the flooding season that included ice jams, and overland waters requiring pumping, that alarmed residents when they saw crews out working.

Many times the end result was unfounded rumors running rampart based on false assumptions that only fueled more undue cause for alarm.

That's where city fathers say the communication will come in, helping quell those fears before they gain momentum.

During the flood of 2009 Cass County officials set up shop at West Fargo City Hall as their emergency center. This year Fargo will have their own base of operation.

However, West Fargo is still being eyed as a location for individuals displaced during a potential flood, with the nursing homes and schools presently being contacted regarding their cooperation and accommodations.

Of course part of the tactical maneuvering will involve keeping a close eye on the operation of the Sheyenne Diversion, which is expected to provide the same secure flood protection it has since its installation in the 90s.

The West Fargo Police Department is playing a major role in the planning; as is the Public Works Department, which has developed a complete document of procedures for spring flooding, new since the last major flood event, addressing just about every scenario and concern imaginable, and how to effectively respond to and deal with them.

As for sandbags, the city has 10,000 bags filled on standby; and they are making sure they have a plan in place to secure backhoes and other necessary equipment in the event they are needed at a moment's notice.

More information will be forthcoming as the future flood forecasts and other related issues unfold.

Related information is also available on the city's website at www.westfargond.gov.

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