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Published March 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

Guard, kids help out in north Fargo flood fight

Camouflaged Army trucks cruised up and down Elm Street on Tuesday, armed to fight floodwaters in a never-before-seen way in this north Fargo neighborhood.

By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM

Camouflaged Army trucks cruised up and down Elm Street on Tuesday, armed to fight floodwaters in a never-before-seen way in this north Fargo neighborhood.

“We’re going to try to have this done in 24 hours,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Leaf, directing two dozen North Dakota Army National Guard trucks.

An estimated 40 troops are working 12-hour shifts through today building a two-mile-long clay dike spanning Kandi Lane next to Trollwood Park.

It’s one of two north Fargo earthen dikes that crews didn’t have to build during the 1997 flood. The other is off Lilac Lane.

“We’ve never had the river levels that high,” City Engineer Mark Bittner said. “We just go where we have to go.”

From all over the state, National Guard members came to help build the dike along Kandi Lane to Broadway, raising the land 4 feet to protect the neighborhood from 42-foot river levels. When they’re done, they’ll put up Hesco barriers on Broadway to protect the Royal Oaks neighborhood.

Royal Oaks residents are building their own sandbag dikes as the river overtakes the road and street signs on north Broadway.

“They’ve never diked here,” said Marlys Shafer as a busload of Detroit Lakes (Minn.) High School students finished a sandbag dike in her backyard off Royal Oaks Drive. “I just can’t believe all these kids.”

Shafer and her husband will now watch the river creep closer over the next couple of days.

“It does make us nervous,” said Peggy Volden, who lives down the road and was one of dozens helping sandbag her neighbor’s yard Tuesday. Many volunteers were from Fergus Falls (Minn.) High School.

“I thought it was a good cause – being with people and helping people,” said Fergus Falls sophomore Nathan Langston, who was part of six busloads of student volunteers from his school.

Their efforts helped ease the neighborhood’s nerves.

Even with the National Guard in his neighborhood, Ron Baker isn’t concerned, just weary.

“They’ll get it done,” he said, adding about the flooding: “It’s getting a little old. But what do you do?”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

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