Second crest prediction goes even lower

Levee near Centennial Elementary School
Students attending school in Fargo-Moorhead made their way around flood dikes still in place.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

The National Weather Service is lowering the projected second crest on the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead.

Hydrologist Mike Lukes says the river is now expected to crest on Saturday at between 35 and 36 feet. That's four to five feet lower than earlier outlooks for a second crest.

"We've had a very nice period with hardly any rain in the southern valley. It looks like we're coming out with the most favorable happy ending that we can right now," he said.

Lukes says it also appears some tributaries drained more quickly to the Red River than computer models had predicted, leading to a lower crest.

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As a result, officials in both cities are making plans to start removing levees next week. Fargo City Commissioner Tim Mahoney says residents need to remember cleanup will be a long process.

"What everybody will want is everything taken down as quickly as it was put up. It may have taken nine days to put up, but it will take 36 days or longer to take down," said Mahoney.

City crews, the National Guard and volunteers built about 80 miles of dikes in Fargo, and about 20 miles in Moorhead.

The Army Corps of Engineers will be in charge of removing earthen levees. The Corps will also coordinate removal of sandbag dikes built in backyards along the river. They will pay high school and college students to do some of the work.

Farther west, high water continues to cause problems on the Sheyenne River. The rising river has prompted evacuations in Valley City, N.D., and in rural areas of Cass and Ransom counties.