Spring flooding: F-M area on 'Red' alert, but diversion should keep West Fargo safe
Here we go again; another wet spring, another flooding Red River of the North.
With a 37- to 39-foot crest forecast by the National Weather Service expected to hit sometime this weekend, the race is on to protect our cities.
In an eerily similar fashion as last year's record flood, the Fargo-Moorhead area and surrounding communities are preparing for the onslaught of excess water. Dikes are being erected, sandbags are being filled, and sump-pumps are on full blast.
One city that can breathe a bit easier, however, is West Fargo. Though it is further away from the Red River than its close sister cities, West Fargo still must deal with the Sheyenne River, which runs right through its heart.
According to the city Web site, "As of 10 a.m. on Monday, March 15 - the Sheyenne Diversion is operating as expected.
"Given the rapid rise in the Sheyenne River, we have reached flood stage and the gates are closed and the river is flowing around West Fargo."
West Fargo City Engineer Kevin Bucholz reiterated the importance the diversion has for the city.
"Without it, we'd have a significant flood fight on our hands," he said "We've been fortunate since it was built in '92."
Last year, work was done to add riprap to the diversion, and rumors spread that somehow the diversion was compromised. But Bucholz said there is nothing wrong with West Fargo's biggest flood-fighting weapon.
"In general, things are operating as they are supposed to be," he said. "It has operated every year since 1992, so it needs maintenance. Kind of like a car: if you have it for a while, you eventually need to change the oil."
The cities of Horace and Harwood also have protection from floodwaters.
"Horace is protected by the Horace diversion, which ties into the West Fargo diversion. Harwood has a (Army Corp of Engineers) project that protects it to an extent," Bucholz said.
He added that the National Weather Service put out notices about the rise in water levels of the Sheyenne, but the public shouldn't be alarmed.
"In this immediate area of the Sheyenne, between Harwood and Horace it did; it rose," he said. "And then it went into the diversion, and that's what it's supposed to do."
For the foreseeable future, the diversion will give much-needed protection to West Fargo and the surrounding community. Bucholz also said that people should keep their eyes peeled, and report anything out of the ordinary.
"It's good that people are aware and if they see something, they contact the city: If they see an ice jam, for instance," he said.
Lend a hand
For West Fargo residents who should exit Flood 2010 unscathed, they may wish to help out neighbors less fortunate.
Sandbags still are needed, and volunteers from around the region are being asked to step forward. Here's a list of ways you can help:
In West Fargo, ninth- through 12th-grade students can volunteer today (Wednesday) to work 2 1/2-hour shifts. Buses will leave West Fargo High School for the first shift at 8:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. for the second shift. A third shift at 4:45 will take off if interest is high. Parents must sign consent forms to have their students participate.
The push to finish levees in Fargo began today (Wednesday) and will run through Friday. The first neighborhoods to get sandbags will be Harwood Groves, Hackberry Drive, River Drive and River Vili. Shuttles began Tuesday, and will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at First Assembly of God Church, 3401 25th Street S. to take volunteers to areas needing dikes built.
Cass County Government established a call center for the flood. Rural residents are encouraged to call 701-287-6000 for all flood-related questions.
The Cass County government also is seeking volunteers to construct sandbag levees in rural areas. Volunteers are asked to go to the Urban Plains Center, where buses will be available to shuttle them to appropriate sites. Buses will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the day.
West Fargo-area residents who need more information can call 701-433-5400. Fargo residents should call 701-476-4199. Volunteers can call the volunteer hotline at 701-476-4000.
"Sandbag Central" will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Saturday. To volunteer, take a shuttle from the Fargo Coliseum, 807 17th Ave. N.