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Fargo sandbag work may start on Thursday

Fargo could begin sandbagging in neighborhoods as early as Thursday, depending on the weather. Plans are to protect the city to a river crest of 42 feet, but that could be adjusted when the National Weather Service releases its latest flood forec...

Graphic: Fargo sandbag distribution

Fargo could begin sandbagging in neighborhoods as early as Thursday, depending on the weather.

Plans are to protect the city to a river crest of 42 feet, but that could be adjusted when the National Weather Service releases its latest flood forecast on Thursday, Senior Engineer April Walker said Friday during a city flood briefing.

City Engineer Mark Bittner said he's "hopefully optimistic" that the cooler weather and warmer days are a good sign for the outlook.

"But we need to be prepared for any eventuality that it goes higher," Bittner said.

The latest prediction gives about a 35 percent chance that the Red River will surpass 40.8 feet.

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The city has already constructed about 6.75 miles of clay levees and produced 2.5 million sandbags.

Engineers project 1.7 million bags will be needed to protect against a 42-foot crest. That's down from initial estimates of more than 3 million bags, said Enterprise Director Bruce Grubb.

More clay levees and alternative products - such as HESCOs, TrapBags and AquaFence - have helped reduce original sandbag needs.

Fargo has a four-day sandbag deployment plan scheduled to begin no sooner than Thursday and dependant on the weather.

Following is the delivery schedule:

  • Day 1: Harwood Groves and River Drive.
  • Day 2: Copperfield Court and Oak Creek.
  • Day 3: River Villi, Belmont Park, Southwood, Fargo Country Club, Fourth and Fifth streets.
  • Day 4: Prairie Rose, Riverwood, Lilac Lane, Elm Circle and Oak Grove. Fargo asks residents to remove snow and other obstructions from sandbag levee routes in their backyards. Area engineering technicians will visit neighborhoods over the weekend and early next week to answer any questions about sandbagging.

Once bags are distributed, volunteers will be needed.
Fargo police will again provide escorts as trucks deliver about 425,000 bags each day. Police Chief Keith Ternes asked the public to avoid traveling major arterial roads once delivery begins to avoid congestion.

City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said neighborhoods that have clay levee protection should find a way to help neighbors who are sandbagging.

Fargo public schools will also bus ninth- through 12th-grade students in to help depending on volunteer needs.

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FirstLink is organizing the volunteer effort for the sandbag placement.

Volunteers can park at Fargo's First Assembly of God Church, 3401 25th St. S., where shuttles will take them to placement sites.

Residents are encouraged to call the volunteer hotline at (701) 476-4000 with questions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is beginning work in a north Fargo borrow pit to get ready for emergency clay construction, which likely wouldn't begin until the Red River starts to rise, said Tim Bertschi, corps area engineer.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511

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