MOORHEAD/CLAY: Moorhead overhauls flood preparations
Moorhead will overhaul its flood-fighting game plan today to reflect a new projection of a rapid rise in Red River levels. Meanwhile, overland flooding continues to plague rural areas south of the city, flushing the residents of several farmstead...
Moorhead will overhaul its flood-fighting game plan today to reflect a new projection of a rapid rise in Red River levels. Meanwhile, overland flooding continues to plague rural areas south of the city, flushing the residents of several farmsteads out of their homes.
Moorhead will firm up a new flood preparedness plan this morning, Operations Director Chad Martin said after news the Red River is now projected to hit 38 feet later this week.
Moorhead's earlier-planned March 22 start date to deliver sandbags to neighborhoods will likely be moved up to Tuesday, said City Councilman Mark Hintermeyer on a break from making sandbags Sunday.
"We hope it will be 38 feet, but we'll plan for a little higher," he said. "We'll try not to be caught off guard this time."
Moorhead's sandbag-making site, at 700 15th Ave. N., was bustling with activity Sunday.
"They're making a boat-load of sandbags today," Martin said. "It's been phenomenal these past three or four days."
More than 100 first-time volunteers turned up Sunday, including a small group from the Twin Cities. Rachel Hurner, a Concordia College senior, said she and her friends took advantage of a respite from classes and schoolwork to volunteer for the first time. But they also heard about the latest flood outlook revision.
"It kind of scared us a little bit into coming," said Hurner.
The site will continue this week daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Volunteers have already filled about 240,000 sandbags. The city is shooting for 300,000.
But, said Martin, "Things are ramping up now. When we get to 300,000, I don't think we're stopping."
The city plans to begin daily flood news conferences at 10 a.m. today. The meetings will be live on WDAY AM 970 and WDAY TV, and by clicking on the station's radio stream on Inforum.com.
Moorhead plans to address its filled-sandbag-distribution plan, volunteer efforts and work on clay levees. The news conferences will continue daily until further notice.
The city is also combining four separate neighborhood zone meetings originally scheduled for today and Tuesday into one meeting at 6 p.m. today in the Moorhead High School auditorium, 2300 4th Ave. S. That meeting is for zones 3, 4, 5 and 8, all of which should have earlier received a postcard from the city.
Work on a clay dike began Saturday around Oakport Township north of Moorhead, an area especially hard hit by last year's flood. Workers "will be working around the clock" to complete the dike, said Greg Anderson, township board supervisor: "What we did last year in seven days, we're doing now in five."
The dike will spare 400 homes from sandbagging, though 100 homes will still need sandbag protection, Anderson said.
Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said his department received notice from the residents of four or five farmsteads Sunday that they were leaving their homes to avoid being stranded by water.
The homes are near Sabin, Minn., and on the northern edge of Clay County. Residents didn't require help from the county to leave.
"They just wanted to get out before it got deeper," Bergquist said. "Some of these homes are definitely threatened."
The Buffalo River surpassed 17 feet Sunday near Sabin and was leveling off. Last year, the river reached a crest of 19.03 feet, just shy of the record 19.20-foot crest in 1997.
The county closed more township roads Sunday, along with County Road 10 south of Hawley.
But Bergquist said he remained calm despite the new flood forecasts.
"We've been planning for this ever since the National Weather Service said we'd be hitting 38 feet this spring," he said. "We're probably sitting OK just yet."
Forum reporter Tammy Swift contributed to this report.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529