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Feds approve $15 million to finish Grand Forks dike

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 (AP) - The Bush administration has approved $15 million to finish the giant Grand Forks dike project by September, the state's congressional delegation says.

      The levee system is expected to cost more than $400 million. The Army Corps of Engineers began work on it in 2000, three years after the Red River flood disaster that swamped Grand Forks and neighboring East Grand Forks, Minn., forcing residents to flee.

      Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., said the system is 97 percent complete, with 30 miles of levees, two miles of floodwalls, 22 pump stations and 10 miles of diversion channels.

      "In the decade since the flood, the Grand Forks community has rebuilt itself in such a tremendous way. However, we cannot leave their hard work and efforts vulnerable to another devastating flood," the delegation statement said Tuesday.

      The city of Grand Forks is planning to mark the 10th anniversary of the flood with a series of events in April, including the dedication of the dike system. 

Officials say former President Bill Clinton, who came to the city during the flood, will be unable to attend the anniversary but has prepared a videotaped message.

      "We're not necessarily trying to celebrate a disaster," city spokesman Kevin Dean said. "We're trying to commemorate what happened and what is part of our history."

             (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)