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Crookston keeping Red Lake River at bay

CROOKSTON, Minn. - The Red Lake River had fallen 3.5 feet in two days by Thursday evening, but the untouched sandbags atop the dike won't be removed any time soon.

CROOKSTON, Minn. - The Red Lake River had fallen 3.5 feet in two days by Thursday evening, but the untouched sandbags atop the dike won't be removed any time soon.

So says Richard Rock, Crookston's fire chief and emergency manager.

"They're not coming off until we're definitely beyond all weather patterns," Rock said. "We'll leave them up for a couple of weeks. They're not affecting anything."

Thursday evening, the river was at 17 feet, down from a 20.5-foot level on Tuesday. Crookston's crest was 20.8 feet on April 7, a rapid rise caused by an ice jam. It then fell below 16 feet before climbing again to 20.5 because the watershed received an inch of rain in a widespread area.

The level fell far below the historic high of 28.5 feet in 1997. A forecast that stated a level of 26.5 feet was possible triggered sandbagging March 9.

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Using high school students, Crookston hiked its protection to 28 feet with the sandbags.

Red crests in Grand Forks

It appeared the Red River crested as early as 1:30 p.m. Thursday, a few inches below 50 feet in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, more than two feet lower than feared only days before.

The highest reading so far was reached at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at 49.67 feet, which would be the third-highest on record.

The highest crest in Grand Forks-East Grand Forks is 54.35 feet in 1997.

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