Fargo mayor optimistic as flooding nears

Road closed
The Red River at Fargo-Moorhead during flood season in 2011.
MPR Photo/Ann Arbor Miller

Crews in Fargo will start filling sandbags Wednesday to prepare for possible flooding in the city.

The National Weather Service says there's a 50 percent chance that the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead will reach 38 feet, more than two feet below the all-time record flood of 2009.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker told MPR's Cathy Wurzer that the city will make 1 million sandbags: 500,000 for Cass County and 500,000 for the city.

So far, Walaker said he's optimistic about the forecast because snow is melting gradually.

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"We hope that the melt continues like it is. Right now it's been very, very slow," Walaker said. "In fact, most of the small streams like the Wild Rice haven't even started yet. Things can happen, I'm not going to say that they couldn't happen, but it's been pretty uneventful so far."

A lot of residents and businesses will likely hold off on setting up sandbag dikes, Walaker said.

"Until the river actually starts moving, and you're seeing the water there, that's when they get serious," Walaker said. "There are those that are concerned and rightly so, but we just don't feel that it's time to panic yet."

Walaker said preparing for floods has become routine in his city, but he said a more permanent diversion of the Red River is needed. The nearly $2 billion diversion project is expected to be considered by Congress this spring.