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Published February 24, 2009, 02:21 PM

Cities along Red River prepare for spring flooding

FARGO - Officials of cities along the Red River are preparing for the worst while they await an updated spring flood forecast Friday.

By: Associated Press, Associated Press

FARGO - Officials of cities along the Red River are preparing for the worst while they await an updated spring flood forecast Friday.

Wilkin County, Minn., engineer Tom Richels says the county has lined up pumps and sandbags. He expects conditions similar to 2006, when the county was declared a disaster area.

“We’ve been concerned since it started raining last fall,” Richels said. “I think it’s going to be mostly a rural event this year. Cities are better protected now, but we expect overland flooding, most likely significant overland flooding.”

Steve Buan, the lead forecaster for the National Weather Service River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minn., met with officials Monday. He said he expects a Red River crest in Fargo in the mid-30 foot range. Flood stage for the Red in Fargo is 18 feet. Fargo officials have said they would have to build a dike to protect City Hall if the river gets to 31 feet.

“I think there’s a pretty significant risk of a spring flood,” Buan said, “and just how bad that’s going to be will be played out, but I think there’s a pretty significant risk.”

Fargo City Engineer Mark Bittner said the biggest threat may be from the Wild Rice River on Fargo’s south end.

“Obviously the Wild Rice does impact a lot of properties in south and southwest Fargo and those rural subdivisions,” Bittner said.

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