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Published March 29, 2009, 12:23 AM

Fargoans happier after quiet day

Flood-fighting efforts continued on Fargo’s south side Saturday, as crews raced to buttress clay and sandbag dikes and sand-filled Hesco barriers even as the Red River was slowly dropping, thanks to a cold snap.

By: Helmut Schmidt, Tracy Frank and Dave Roepke, Forum staff writers, INFORUM

Flood-fighting efforts continued on Fargo’s south side Saturday, as crews raced to buttress clay and sandbag dikes and sand-filled Hesco barriers even as the Red River was slowly dropping, thanks to a cold snap.

Still, after more than a week of frenetic sandbagging, many metro-area residents walked around, enjoyed the sun and snapped photos of the historic flood.

Yvette Nguyen, 618 Southwood Drive, and her sister Yvonne Watkins walked the perimeter of the Fargo Country Club, where construction equipment was still bringing in sand to bolster Hesco barriers.

Nguyen joked about the huge ruts ripped into backyards and berms by construction equipment.

“My backyard is being completely re-landscaped. We have a wading pool with a sump pump in it,” she said.

“We always joke it’s not spring until we sandbag. Stay dry!” Nguyen said.

In north Fargo, Anna and Jerzy Bilski took a walk to see what was going on in their neighborhood.

“Yesterday we were so anxious,” Anna Bilski said.

“Now we are relaxed,” Jerzy Bilski said.

“Not completely relaxed, but about 80 percent better than yesterday.”

The Bilskis are more confident with even a slight drop in river levels.

At 10:15 p.m. Saturday, the Red had dropped to 40.42 feet in Fargo-Moorhead, down from 40.82 feet Friday. But the National Weather Service was predicting it would bump up to 40.6 feet today, before resuming its drop.

For Monday and Tuesday, the National Weather Service is forecasting 6 to 8 inches of snow in the southern Valley, which could raise levels or prolong crests for the Red, Wild Rice and Sheyenne rivers.

Workers in Fargo were bolstering dikes on Drain 27 and Rose Coulee, said Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney.

Drain 27 is a county drain that brings water into the city at 52nd Avenue in the Osgood area. The drain heads north and turns east just north of 40th Avenue South. East of Interstate 29, it connects to the Rose Coulee system and drains into the Red River.

Work also continued in Timberline and along River Drive in the Harwood Groves area, he said.

Mahoney said the National Guard may use 1-ton sandbags placed with heavy equipment or helicopters to reinforce dikes around the River Vili and Belmont subdivisions.

South of Fargo in the Chrisan subdivision, Russ and Bev Richards felt as good as they had in days as family and friends drank beer and laughed while standing on the clay levee on their street.

Their house was on the river side of the levee, and when Thursday’s 42-foot crest prediction arrived, it was a dark moment.

“Two days ago, I thought it was beyond hope,” Russ Richards said.

By Saturday, ice on a makeshift bridge of pallets strung from the levee to their sandbag wall showed the water had dropped.

The fight wasn’t all over. A group of 30 to 40 National Guard soldiers from Sioux Falls, S.D., helped shore up their wall Saturday. Still, the Richards were in a good enough mood to joke.

“I’m not the best dike-builder, OK?” Russ said. “I’m not Dutch.”


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

Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526 and Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

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