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Volunteers turning out for 'go time' in Moorhead

"Now is go time." With that, Moorhead City Manager Michael Redlinger opened Tuesday's flood update at City Hall by asking volunteers to redouble efforts to fill sandbags and build dikes around Moorhead homes. "It's absolutely critical that we get...

Lifting sandbags
Lindsay Haugen of Moorhead lifts sandbags Tuesday as she helps out her neighbors, Dave and Sharon Weber, at 707 9th St. N. in Moorhead. David Samson/The Forum

"Now is go time."

With that, Moorhead City Manager Michael Redlinger opened Tuesday's flood update at City Hall by asking volunteers to redouble efforts to fill sandbags and build dikes around Moorhead homes.

"It's absolutely critical that we get volunteers out today," Redlinger said.

And people did turn out, said City Council member Brenda Elmer, who visited several neighborhoods on Tuesday.

"Everywhere I go, there's 40 to 50 kids on hand," said Elmer. She thanked Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead students who helped out.


Representatives from those schools said Tuesday that students were being encouraged to volunteer, and it was expected that Moorhead High School students will join the effort when they get a three-day break from classes starting today.

Moorhead has prefilled 300,000 sandbags, reaching the goal the city set to protect against a 38-foot flood.

But Redlinger said Tuesday that sandbag production will continue indefinitely because all of the bags may be distributed to neighborhoods by this morning. The city wants dikes built to a height of 40 feet.

He said that would provide several feet of insurance against a forecasted crest of 37 to 39 feet, which is expected sometime on Sunday.

Volunteers are signing up at Nemzek Hall on the MSUM campus, and from there they are being bused to work sites around Moorhead.

Smelly water

Moorhead Public Service General Manager Bill Schwandt said the utility doesn't expect the flood to cause major power, water or sewer problems.

To avoid overwhelming the waste-water treatment system during high water, Schwandt said residents will be asked to curb water consumption as the weekend approaches.


He said if Moorhead Public Service disconnects power in an area, "You should know about it in plenty of time."

The number to call to report a power outage in Moorhead is (218) 299-5400.

Schwandt said the spring melt and the decaying vegetation it is releasing is causing taste and odor issues in drinking water. Moorhead responded by shifting to using more well water.

He said Moorhead's drinking water is now a blend of 50 percent Red River water and 50 percent well water.

"It is safe to drink," he said.

Information central

The city of Moorhead has started a Web site where people can find a variety of information regarding the city's flood-fighting effort, including the names of neighborhood zone team members who are helping decide where resources should go.

The Web site can be found at www.cityofmoorhead.com/flood .


The primary number to call with any flood questions, concerns or requests for help is (218) 299-5300.

In Clay County, Sheriff Bill Bergquist warned Tuesday that nearly 40 roads were under water or washed out.

He said starting this morning, Minnesota National Guard members will be in the county to lend assistance, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be in the county to help with any river rescues.

Bergquist said it was heartening to hear Tuesday that the Buffalo River was dropping near Hawley and Sabin, though he said water was still rising near Dilworth.

Clay County Social Services said a number of phone lines have been set up in the Fargo-Moorhead area to provide emotional support.

Numbers to call for help include (701) 235-7335 and (800) 223-4512.

Moorhead plans to close off coulee

A coulee in south Moorhead that caused flooding worries last year is not expected to be an issue this spring, Moorhead officials say.


Located between the Red River and Eighth Street in the area of 40th Avenue South, the coulee usually serves as a drain to the river.

Last year, floodwater flowed into the coulee and threatened homes, prompting the building of a dike that ringed the levee and took up a large share of Moorhead's flood-fighting resources.

The city's plan this year is to build a dike across the coulee near the river to prevent backup if high water appears.

The option's potential downside is that it creates a pond that could itself flood from heavy rain.

As one way to address that threat, the city placed a pump station at the west end of 40th Avenue South that would pump water out of the coulee if necessary, said Jim Schulz of the city's engineering department.

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

Lifting sandbags
Clay is delivered Tuesday evening along 4th Avenue South in Moorhead as dike building continues through the night. David Samson/The Forum

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com.
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