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Fargo-Moorhead prepping for 'potentially historic flood'; sandbagging volunteers will be needed

Volunteers work to raise the level of a dike at Eighth Avenue North and Oak Street near Mickelson Field in Fargo during the 2009 flood. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Mayor Tim Mahoney said Fargo's plans have accelerated as officials scramble to prepare for a "potentially historic flood."

Early next week, the city will hold a "high-level emergency operations" tabletop exercise to run through the steps that will be taken in the flood fight.

"The five percent probability of 41.4 feet would be a new flood of record for Fargo-Moorhead," Mahoney said in a statement on Friday, March 15, after the National Weather Service issued its latest spring flood outlook.

After the exercise, Mahoney intends to detail the city's plans. And over the next few weeks, staff will schedule regular public meetings to provide progress updates.

"Since 2009, the city has made vast improvements in permanent flood protection and greatly decreased the need for temporary measures," Mahoney said. "However, there remains areas of Fargo where supplementary emergency measures will be needed."

The city will be asking for volunteers to help make sandbags at Sandbag Central, the city's sandbag-filling assembly station, and then seek volunteers to help place the bags in targeted areas.

"These efforts will be extremely vital in protecting our community," Mahoney said, adding that more information on the volunteer requests will be discussed early next week.

"I want to reassure our residents the city of Fargo is ready to protect you," the mayor added. "Every member of our team is taking this forecast very seriously, and we will be activating resources and personnel accordingly."

In Moorhead, city engineers said the flood outlook released Friday means a flood in the range of 38 feet is most likely, with lower chances of approaching the record 2009 flood, which crested at 40.84 feet.

"The city of Moorhead's flood mitigation projects were designed for these levels," a statement from the Moorhead Engineering Department said.

"Where necessary, the city's flood emergency plan includes implementing measures to protect public infrastructure and essential service continuation at these states, and city staff are taking steps to prepare to implement these measures as indicated by updated forecasts."

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com

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