Flood battle continues as officials ask volunteers to keep fighting
FARGO - A significant turnout by volunteers cranked out 450,000 sand-bags in the past 24 hours, boosting confidence of city, county and state officials that the city will hold back the Red River's rising floodwaters.
A flurry of activity helped button up the city and many of its subdivisions, and concentrated efforts today turn to specific areas of concern.
A combination of North Dakota National Guard soldiers, contractors, public employees and volunteers plan to address south Fargo areas near Rose Coulee, South River Road, 32nd to 40th avenues south.
On the city's north side, workers will be concentrating diking efforts near 37th Avenue North and Trollwood Park - areas that didn't need dikes in any previous Fargo flood.
In addition, the city wants to build contingency levees near City Hall and the Oak Grove neighborhood.
"We had a great day yesterday," Mayor Dennis Walaker said. "The good news this morning is the sun is shining."
Volunteers bolstered Fargo's chances of beating this spring's flood, but officials again called for more people to help.
Officials hope to replicate Monday's effort today and Wednesday, and continue making sandbags through Saturday.
"We really appreciate it and keep turning out," Gov. John Hoeven said of the massive volunteer turnout Monday.
About 660 soldiers from North Dakota are helping in the effort, and hundreds more from Minnesota are doing the same on the east side of the river.
The National Weather Service maintains its prediction that the Red River will reach 40 feet by Friday.
Walaker and others praised volunteers, especially the turnout by high school and college students, and thanked those who travelled to help from areas of North Dakota and Minnesota.
One of the biggest unknowns in the flood battle is the rising Wild Rice River, which flows into the Red River south of Fargo.
Cass County Engineer Keith Berndt said levee-building operations between the Wild Rice River and south Fargo have gone well, and the county hopes to finish dikes today to protect rural subdivisions in the 76th Avenue South area.
He reported that sand-bagging efforts continue to operate in the area to save homes from both overland flooding and the Wild Rice and Red rivers.
Officials said they hope to hear about a presidential disaster declaration today, and North Dakota has asked for 90 percent federal reimbursement for costs.
The mood of leaders remained optimistic as they urged residents to keep up their efforts.
"We have people who are going to beat this flood," said Dr. Tim Mahoney, a city commissioner for Fargo. "We will take on this challenge and we will beat this challenge."
He also asked motorists to slow down and give truck drivers who are transporting sandbags plenty of room to operate.
Mahoney said there is an organized effort to fight the flood, and asked residents to be patient. He said those who still need sand to protect their homes will receive it.