As crest passes, attention turns to permanent Fargo flood protection

Woodlawn Park
Ducks paddle on the flooded Red River in Woodlawn Park in Moorhead, Minn. on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. This part of the park is normally a disc golf course.
MPR Photo/Nathaniel Minor

As the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead crests Wednesday at levels well-below what was forecast last week, local leaders are turning their attention to permanent flood protection.

National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust says it appears a preliminary crest of 33.27 feet was reached early Wednesday. The exact level will be verified later.

Fargo-Moorhead leaders met Wednesday morning with the Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Amy Klobuchar to discuss a proposed $1.8 billion Red River diversion project.

Klobuchar said this year's flood was much lower than expected, but the cities still had to spend time and money preparing.

"We just can't keep living like this every year," Klobuchar said. "It was only about a week ago we were told it might be one of the highest levels in history. That's how close we were to another disaster. The best solution here, we all know it, is permanent flood protection."

Hoeven said the diversion channel appears to have support in Congress.

"There's two aspects to it. Authorization, getting approval to do the project at the federal level Authorization we need up front. Funding comes year by year," Hoeven said.

Before and during scenes of this year's flood

News Cut: The last house standing on Riverview Circle
Photos: Fargo's 'Sandbag Central' volunteers reflect
Home buyouts in Fargo-Moorhead key to flood fight
Myriad factors led to off-base flood predictions

Hoeven said the U.S. Senate will vote next week on a bill that includes authorization for the diversion.

If the diversion is authorized and funded, construction of the 35-mile long channel will take about 10 years.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)