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Published April 09, 2009, 12:00 AM

Flood fight not in the bag yet

Sandbag fever has turned into sandbag fatigue.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

Sandbag fever has turned into sandbag fatigue.

Fargo officials are calling for sandbagging volunteers today and Friday at the Fargodome.

Work began Wednesday to make 400,000 more sandbags to replace reserves used to reinforce Fargo’s dikes for a second crest of the Red River, but after Fargo North High School students left, volunteers were scarce.

“We need bodies,” said Jerome Miller, Fargo’s deputy inspections administrator. “Come out for a picnic in the sand!”

Moorhead also needs volunteers to build a reserve of 500,000 sandbags in case of breaches in the city’s dike system, officials said.

Work also began on moving the onramps to Interstate 94 at Eighth Street in Moorhead to accommodate dike work.

Meanwhile, Fargo got good news in Bis-marck.

Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney said he and other officials testified before a House committee on a bill to create a Red River Valley Authority to handle water quality and control issues for the watershed.

Mahoney said the plan has strong support among lawmakers.

Fargo North High School students filled sandbags Wednesday. The Team USA Under 18 hockey squad also grabbed some shovels.

“We’re just coming down here to do everything we can to help,” said team captain William Wrenn, 18 of Anchorage, Alaska.

Fargo hopes 1,000 students sandbag today.

Fargo has scrapped plans for some contingency dikes because of a lower predicted second crest of between 38 and 40 feet for the Red River. In Moorhead, some contingency dikes are on hold, while others are going up, officials said.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said up to an inch of rain will have little effect on the Red, but 2-inch to 4-inch rains could be trouble.

The Red was at 31.8 feet at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, with the National Weather Service predicting it would drop to 30 feet Saturday, before bouncing back to 36.1 feet by Wednesday.

The weather forecast calls for 41 degrees today and 46 degrees Friday, with overnight temperatures in the mid-20s to 30s.

Temperatures will be in the 50s this weekend, with a chance of showers Sunday.

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said there will be a flood planning meeting at 7 tonight at the Cass County Highway Department in West Fargo with mayors of area towns and representatives of subdivisions.

At Fargo’s Oak Grove Lutheran School, repairs will be made on a breached floodwall today, Principal Morgan Forness said. They include welding a metal plate on the steel floodwall, concrete and rebar, a plastic cover and sandbags, he said.

Damaged walls and floors in Jackson and Benson halls have been ripped out, Forness said.

Forum reporter Dave Olsoncontributed to this story.

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