FARGO (KFGO) – Mayor Tim Mahoney has signed an emergency declaration, ahead of potential flooding. The declaration is a requirement for the city to receive federal reimbursement for costs associated with flood preparation work.
Mahoney says the city will seek volunteers to fill 1-million sandbags at Sandbag Central. That work will begin at 8 a.m. Tues. March 26. The goal will be 100,000 sandbags a day.
The National Weather Service says “significant” snowmelt flooding is likely this spring in the Red River Valley after last weeks massive late-winter storm in the Midwest. The chance the river will reach major flood stage in Fargo has increased from 50 percent to 90 percent.
Its estimated that could be reached around April 15. In the record flood of 2009, Fargo filled and placed more than 6-million sandbags.
FARGO — Mayor Tim Mahoney declared a state of emergency to enable flood-fighting efforts to kick into high gear as the city prepares for a 10-percent probability of a 40.3-foot crest, a flood almost as severe as the record 2009 flood.
Mahoney's declaration on Monday, March 18, means that the city's Sandbag Central sandbag-filling station will open Tuesday, March 26, and volunteers will be asked to make 1 million sandbags in case needed for emergency protection.
The city expects it will take nine or 10 days to fill 1 million sandbags, which city officials will stockpile as a precaution. Officials plan for volunteers to staff 12-hour shifts and will use two "spider" sandbag-filling machines, capable of making about 100,000 sandbags per day.
"We cannot be complacent," Mahoney said. "Once again we will need the spirit of Fargo across all our efforts."
The city of Fargo has built more than 21 miles of permanent levees and flood walls, and would need an estimated 20 miles of temporary levees and sandbag walls to defend a flood equal to the 2009 record, 40.84 feet, said Nathan Boerboom, a city engineer.
The current 100-year floodplain, as defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is 39.3 feet, he said. Unprotected, a flood of that level would threaten 2,025 properties in Fargo.
A crest is expected to arrive around April 15. So far, the thaw has been gradual, which helps to provide time to put protection measures in place.
Water is not yet expected to begin making its way into the Red River system, a National Weather Service advisory said.
"No major weather systems are expected to impact the region through the end of the work week," the weather service added. "A switch to a more active weather pattern is possible heading into the last week of March."
In the declaration, the Mayor notes that Fargo is in danger of suffering a substantial flood event in the upcoming spring season.
"This system could bring snow, rain, or a mix of precipitation types to somewhere across the Northern Plains but it is far too soon to pinpoint any specifics at this time," the weather service said.
Moorhead and Clay County have been working together to set up an emergency operations center, though the time and place has yet to be determined, Moorhead City Manager Chris Volkers said. The city is trying to figure out how many sandbags it will need, but Volkers said it likely will be hundreds of thousands.
Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd plans to issue an emergency declaration this week, Volkers said. The City Council would have 72 hours to approve a resolution to continue the declaration, she said. The city has a meeting on Monday, March 25, but Volkers said she set a tentative special meeting for Friday, March 22.
The city has done a lot of work to protect the city, though there are gaps, Volkers said. She noted the Oakport neighborhood, where the city hasnt been able to buy out properties for levees, she said.
We need to focus efforts on them as well and help them out, she said, adding that unprotected gaps will need clay levees.
Moorhead city staff are shifting from winter operations directly into flood fighting, and with the hard winter, workers have not had much time to rest, Volkers said. The city is in planning mode, and there will be calls for volunteers, she said.