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Sandbag volunteers desperately needed

FARGO - Metro residents "are now at the point of stress and great concern," a local Salvation Army leader said today as officials pleaded for more volunteers to help sandbag.

"Fear is setting in," Capt. Adam Moore said. "We're seeing that on the streets."

The local Salvation Army and Red Cross both have "emotional first aid" teams in place for those who need help, he said.

Sandbag volunteers are needed to make at least 300,000 sandbags per day to prevent widespread flooding through neighborhoods and subdivisions in Fargo and Cass County.

Officials said about 560,000 had been filled so far, but the city previously said it needs 1.5 million to 2 million sandbags. Up to 3 million sandbags may be needed in Cass County.

About 527,000 sandbags were delivered to neighborhoods from noon Sunday to Monday morning, said Bruce Grubb, enterprise director for Fargo.

"We're confident in our ability to get bags delivered," he said "Getting them made is a more daunting challenge."

Officials said they need at least 350 sandbag volunteers around the clock, and a third sandbag-making machine is expected to arrive today.

The North Dakota National Guard has devoted 350 soldiers to help with the effort, and officials said they need all the help they can get from the public.

"That's the only way we survived in '97 was everybody pitching in," Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said.

In Fargo, the city is working on bolstering its defenses today in the central core of the city, including the Lindenwood area and south Fargo to address overland flows.

On the north side, crews are working in the El Zagal and Oak Street areas. They move onto the Oak Grove neighborhood and then move north to the Ridgewood area.

Cass County Engineer Keith Berndt said traffic will be "significantly impeded" as crews begin erecting dirt dikes on roads.

Gov. John Hoeven visited sandbag central earlier.

"The fight is in full gear here," he said, adding that he's "very concerned" about the flood-fighting effort in Fargo and Wahpeton.

Hoeven plans to visit Wahpeton today, too.

In addition, classes at North Dakota State University were canceled at 9 a.m. Students from Fargo schools also will be helping.

So far, officials said about 560,000 have been filled, but the city previously said it needs 1.5 million to 2 million sandbags. Up to 3 million sandbags may be needed in Cass County.

Volunteers are asked to report directly to the Fargodome, where they can take a shuttle to areas which are in the greatest need.

To work on dikes in south Fargo, volunteers should report to Hope Lutheran Church, 3636 25th St. S., and First Assembly Church, 3401 25th St. S.

Buses will shuttle volunteers into the neighborhoods where sandbaggers are needed.

North Dakota State University students, faculty and staff were urged to report to the Memorial Union bus shelter to volunteer.

On the Moorhead side, volunteer sandbags are asked to report directly to Nemzek Hall on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus.

For more information, call (701) 476-4000.