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Published April 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

Moorhead residents get flood update

Moorhead residents got an update Friday on preparations ahead of a second crest of the Red River, which could be over 39 feet between Thursday and Saturday.

By: Dave Olson,

Moorhead residents got an update Friday on preparations ahead of a second crest of the Red River, which could be over 39 feet between Thursday and Saturday.

The city’s first line of defense, miles of sandbag levees on private property, is in good shape, with only a few spots needing attention before the crest, City Manager Michael Redlinger told a group gathered at Moorhead’s Bethesda Lutheran Church.

Contingency dikes are nearing completion in many locations as a backup.

Residents in the area of 40th Avenue South questioned why contingency dikes in that area are several blocks from the river.

Redlinger said if the dikes were placed closer to the river they would shut off fire and police protection to some homes.

One resident asked what would happen to homes between the primary and would come into the neighborhoods. It’s all kind of an academic exercise,” he said.secondary dikes if there is a major breach in the first line of defense.

“It’s likely there would still be time to get people out,” said Redlinger, adding he could not give a definitive answer because such a thing hasn’t happened before.

“The best thing we’ve got are computer models that indicate some water

During the Red River’s initial crest, rising water in a coulee frightened some residents who sandbagged their homes against possible flooding from that quarter.

Officials said the coulee will be watched closely. If too much water starts to back up, sandbags will be dropped by helicopters to cut off the coulee from the river.

To block the ditch now could cause flooding from rain or meltwater, officials said.

Teresa Norwig pressed officials on the need for contingency dikes when they weren’t necessary for the first crest. “I think the clay dikes are unnerving people,” she said.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said contingency dikes would have been built the first time around if there had been more time.

He said there’s no guarantee that the river won’t surprise people.

“It (the forecast picture) is still pretty squishy,” said Voxland, adding the National Weather Service has yet to figure out what the weather pattern will be around the time of the crest.

“We don’t want to look like Grand Forks did,” he said. “We don’t want to have huge neighborhood areas with everybody’s basement gone.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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