MOORHEAD — The city of Moorhead will begin filling sandbags next week in anticipation of flooding this spring, with the city setting its initial goal at 150,000.
That news followed an emergency flood declaration by Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd on Friday morning, March 22, which the city council affirmed at a meeting set for 3 p.m. Friday.
Meanwhile, the Fargo City Commission has set a public flood planning meeting for 8 a.m. on Monday, March 25, in the city commission chambers of Fargo city hall, 225 4th Ave. N.
Fargo city commissioners as well as Cass County commissioners have been invited so a quorum may be present. The meeting will be live streamed and televised across the city’s public Information channels.
Moorhead filled about 2.5 million sandbags to fight the flood of 2009, which reached a record 40.84 feet in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
The National Weather Service has said there is a 5 percent chance the flood of 2019 will exceed that record level, and Moorhead officials said Friday they are preparing for a possible flood crest of between 40 and 41 feet.
Judd said that since the 2009 flood, Moorhead has taken many steps to mitigate flood issues, including the purchase of 263 flood-prone properties and the building of 12.1 miles of levees and flood walls.
In addition, he said, the city has installed 78 sewer gates to protect the city sewer system from backing up during floods.
Cass County has announced it, too, is seeking volunteers to fill sandbags and it will do so from Wednesday, March 27, to Friday, April 5, at the Cass County Highway Shop at 1201 Main Ave. W. in West Fargo.
Volunteers are needed in Cass County weekdays and weekends. Weekday shifts run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Weekend shifts are slated for 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 30, and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 31.
To maximize productivity, 55 to 60 volunteers per shift are needed. Businesses, civic organizations, rural subdivisions and other groups are encouraged to help out.
"Cass County cannot provide maximum flood protection to our rural residents without citizen involvement," county officials said in a news release. "This is the only sandbag operation supporting rural Cass County."
To volunteer, call the county’s volunteer coordinator, Chip Ammerman, at 701-239-6700. For general flood-related information, call County Administrator Robert Wilson at 701-241-5770. The county also has launched its flood hotline: 701-241-8000.
Fargo has also put out a call for volunteers, as the city is looking to fill one million sandbags.
- Fargo's sandbag filling starts Tuesday, March 26, at Sandbag Central, 2301 8th Ave. N., with weekday hours running 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- To volunteer to help in Fargo, call (701) 476-4000, or visit www.FargoND.gov/FloodVolunteers.
Cass County has also announced it will host three meetings with residents to discuss how to best prepare for spring flooding.
The meetings are meant to inform residents about initial flood prevention activities planned for rural neighborhoods. The three meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on their respective days:
- Monday, March 25, at the Hickson (N.D.) Community Center for residents who live south of County Road 14.
- Tuesday, March 26, the multi-purpose room at Bennett Elementary School, 2000 58th Ave. S. in Fargo, for residents living between Interstate 94 and County Road 14.
Wednesday, March 27, at the Harwood (N.D.) Community Center, 210 Freedland Drive for residents who live north of I-94.
Officials expect residents will see countywide impacts due to overland flooding. Some residents could be surrounded by water and isolated, leaders warned Monday as county commissioners signed an emergency declaration.
The county may host more meetings as flood forecasts develop.
Clay County has said it will open its emergency operations center in the Moorhead Law Enforcement Center starting March 29.
Clay County has yet to release specifics of any sandbagging plans.
In Moorhead, Judd said in 2009 the city built about 9 miles of clay dikes. Today, he said, just 1.6 miles of clay dike will be required to achieve the desired level of protection.
Moorhead officials said they will announce specifics Monday, March 25, regarding sandbagging efforts, which are to start about the middle of next week.
City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said a river stage of 38 feet would threaten about 40 private properties in Moorhead, while a stage of 41 feet would threaten about 108 properties.
Zimmerman said about 40 homes in the Oakport neighborhood, which was annexed in 2015, may require sandbagging this spring. The city has said it will provide the sandbags.
Zimmerman said the homes in Oakport that could be affected by a flood are mostly located between 45th Avenue North and Wall Street.