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Published March 10, 2009, 12:00 AM

Fargo stands 50-50 chance of major flooding

Fargo stands a 50-50 chance of having a major flood of 35 to 36 feet, City Commissioners were told Monday as part of an update on spring flood preparations.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

Fargo stands a 50-50 chance of having a major flood of 35 to 36 feet, City Commissioners were told Monday as part of an update on spring flood preparations.

The National Weather Service flood forecasts are worrisome, said City Engineer Mark Bittner.

“Every time we see it, it keeps going up,” Bittner said. “I’ve never seen it start at the severe flooding level” before.

Flood stage at Fargo comes at 18 feet, with moderate flooding at 25 feet and major flooding at 30 feet, according to the weather service.

Bittner said he believes the flood crest prediction will rise. However, he said snow received Monday and expected today is within the weather service’s flood forecasting model, which called for a colder and wetter March than average.

Senior Engineer April Walker said the city has 300,000 sandbags on hand and will provide them where there are identified needs, such as along the Red River or along drains.

Walker encouraged anyone thinking about buying flood insurance to do it now. Because there is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance can take effect, she said people may have but a week to buy a policy and have it in effect when the river is flooding.

“If you’re not getting insurance today, you’re almost too late,” she said.

City Administrator Pat Zavoral urged anyone seeking answers on spring flooding to go to www.city


The page also includes links to Southside Flood Control Project, including detailed north and south Fargo maps of preliminary Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new 100-year flood plain, Walker said.

Attorneys to meet on Sauby traffic fine case
Attorneys for the city of Fargo will meet in a mediation session March 17 with lawyers for drivers who are seeking damages of up to $4.5 million in a lawsuit of overpriced traffic fines.

City Attorney Erik Johnson said Monday that the session is part of a process that could either lead to a settlement or trial. He said it will be handled by Magistrate Judge Karen Klein.

The lawsuit was first brought in 2007 by Stephanie Sauby, a West Fargo woman, who said her U.S. constitutional rights were violated by the fines. U.S. District Judge Rodney Webb agreed.

The city has not been able to appeal Webb’s decision and can’t unless and until the city is found liable. More than 53,000 drivers could be part of the class-action lawsuit.

City Commissioners met in executive session Monday with their lawyers to discuss that case, and to get an update on where the city stands in a lawsuit with the Red River Freethinkers, who want a monument espousing their beliefs placed next to the Ten Commandments monument downtown.

Johnson said Fargo has heard nothing yet from the Freethinkers in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision that said cities don’t have to allow monuments to be erected by all groups that wish them.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583