Category Archives: Fargo

Fargo Not Out Of Danger Yet, Storm Winds Could Damage Levees

A winter storm is coming to Fargo, North Dakota with predictions of up to 14 inches of snow. The storm could whip waves up in the swollen Red River causing more flooding.
Engineers aren’t worried about the large snow falls predicted but the waves are another matter. The repeated crashing of the water against the sandbag levees could weaken the protective dikes that surround the city.

Jeff DeZellar, a spokesman for the United States Army Corps of Engineers said that the higher the wind speed the higher the threat is to the levees. The forecast is for winds of 25 MPH.

The Red River has dropped to 39 1/2 feet as of early Monday morning. That is less than the predictions but still 22 feet above flood stage.

This week will be a long one as the city waits to see if last week’s sandbagging effort pays off.

The National Guard is in the process of putting a layer of poly over the levees to help them hold up against the expected high waves.

AP reports:

“The place is so flat,” said John Gulliver, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota. “It is totally flat so there’s really no place for the water to go because it can’t leave that quickly. So it just keeps backing up like a bathtub with a slow drain.”

Last week two people died from heart attacks in North Dakota, thought to be brought on by the exertion during the flood prevention.

As The River Starts To Level Off A Look At Fargo

Today the people of Fargo, South Dakota gathered at a hotel to pray after their own church has been closed due to the threat of flooding.

The latest news out is good, the river levels have started to drop.

Did Mother Nature send a special spring freeze in the nick of time for the residents of Fargo, North Dakota?

The Weather Service said that even though the Red River is falling in Fargo, it remains extremely high.

“We advise people not to let their guard down, but just to be cautious,” he said. “There’s quite a way to go yet, and just keep an eye on it.”

Unmanned airplanes generally used to patrol the U.S. border are being used to help fight the flood. The high tech radar and video technology allows the drone to capture changes in flood waters and detect structural damage faster than the human eye.

This is the first time the plane has been used to survey flood conditions.

The danger still remains and will until the river has receded to normal levels.

One casualty to the flood is the Oak Grove Lutheran School when a dike broke glooding the 5-acre campus.

Star Tribune reports:

“The campus is basically devastated,” said Mayor Dennis Walaker. “They fought the good fight. They lost and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those things will continue to happen. I guarantee it.” The breach is a “wakeup call” that shows the threats the city will face for the next week, the mayor said.

“They made a gallant effort,” Principal Morgan Forness told KFGO radio. “They gave it everything they had, and just couldn’t contain it. It came to the center of the campus, and now, it’s inundating all of the buildings.”

It has been estimated that the flood clean up will take two months. Five homes have been lost in the Fargo city limits.

Now it’s time for reality to set in after a surreal week of battling the Red River and the force of nature. Many of those that were in danger of losing their homes to the flood would have had to rebuild without the help of insurance. Less than 800 homeowners in the flood warning areas of North Dakota and Minnesota have insurance protecting them from flood damage.

In Fargo itself only 586 homeowners are covered for flood insurance. With the state of the economy federal help may not have been there to help the residents with the massive costs that a flood can bring.


“Memories are short, and people don’t remember the 1997 flood,” said Butch Kinerney, spokesman for the National Flood Insurance Program, managed by FEMA. “You see it time and time again: People forget the past.”

The Red River Flood Will Not Be a New Katrina, Vows Obama

As the waters threaten South Dakota, Minnesota and Canadian towns along the Red River the president is watching. Obama is vowing that the federal government will be working to avert a complete disaster.

Obama spoke on Saturday pledging his support according to USA Today.

“Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond — and respond urgently,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

“I will continue to monitor the situation carefully,” he pledged. “We will do what must be done to help.”

The president told residents in the two states to be vigilant in reading the flood reports and to follow the evacuation orders from federal, state and local officials if they are declared.

Obama heaped praise on the thousands of volunteers who have spent the past week building sandbag dikes.

While Obama is at Camp David this weekend his aides stress that he is being kept up to date with the flood details.

Obama doesn’t want another Katrina on his hands. In August 2005 former President George W. Bush’s popularity took a nose dive as New Orleans struggle after Hurricane Katrina and the levees surrounding the city broke down.

The past few days President Obama has been signing emergency and disaster declarations for Minnesota and North Dakota. On Saturday during his weekly national address Obama outlined the scope of his administration’s involvement. Both the Homeland Security Department and FEMA are coordinating the federal response. Both Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA administrator Nancy Ward have been in close contact with state officials. Ward has been sent to Fargo already.

FEMA acting administrator Nancy Ward says that New Orleans has taught FEMA that the agency needs to be in place when a disaster happens instead of later. That is the way to insure the help that is needed happens sooner.

Ward is in Fargo Saturday because she wanted to see the situation firsthand to better understand the challenges.

USA Today reports:

“At moments like these, we are reminded of the power of nature to disrupt lives and endanger communities,” Obama said. “But we are also reminded of the power of individuals to make a difference.”

“In facing sudden crises or more stubborn challenges, the truth is we are all in this together — as neighbors and fellow citizens,” Obama said.

With the highest levels ever reported Red River could leave thousands homeless.

Reuters reports:

“In terms of natural disasters that can strike this country, floods are just the worst, at least in my experience,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Reuters in an interview in Washington.

“It is a horrible human tragedy to watch this,” he said. “I think the folks in North Dakota and Minnesota have done an extraordinary job in trying to protect against this.”

The flooding could affect planting this year. Up to 500,000 acres could be reduced for the spring wheat crop. More than half of the sugar beets and a large portion of spring wheat for the United States is grown in the area.

Fargo Residents Are Fleeing, Important Information For Residents

As a public service to those in Fargo and families fleeing the flood Digital Journal is putting up this article for important information that may be needed.
Robert Fitzgerald has told residents that are fleeing the Red River in Fargo to stay in touch with family through a special Red Cross web site that has been put in place. In addition there is a phone number that can be used if Internet service is not available at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Fargo Police Department: if you evacuate, post a notice on your front door. Information should include: Name, Date and Time of Evacuation, Contact Information. Police will use this information if they have to contact the owner about their residence.

Those who are handicapped and need assistance in getting out of Fargo please call the special needs evacuation hotline at 701-241-5791.

A flood map and Contingency Plan is located here with through instructions.

If you are leaving please turn off your water supply in an effort to conserve water. Also please plug their sewer drains before you leave, the Fargo Police are making that request.

For those needing a place for their pets:
The Fargo-Moorhead Humane Society has set up an emergency animal shelter at the Shoelander Arena on the West Fargo Fairgrounds. Emergency intake of domestic animals (dogs, cats, etc.) will be available 24 hours a day for all F-M residents who have evacuated. Visitation hours between owners and animals will be from 11am to 3pm daily. The shelter is currently in good shape for volunteers and donations.

Fergus Falls Salvation Army now accepting area evacuees at it’s Fergus Falls chapel and gymnasium. Call 218-739-9692 to arrange shelter. Mike told me that no one has come in as of yet but they will be open all weekend and are waiting to help. They hope that they are not needed but please feel free to go to them if you are in need, Only one person has come in so far but he was not an evacuee, just a person needing a place. All motel rooms are filled in town.

MNDOT closed the right two westbound lanes of Interstate 94 from Highway 75/8th Street to the Red River. Traffic will be down to one westbound lane at that location. The closure will include the westbound I-94 entrance ramp from Highway 75/8th Street. The right two lanes and the entrance ramp will be closed until further notice. The eastbound I-94 exit ramp at Highway 75/8th Street also remains closed until further notice.

The Cass County Commission issued a mandatory evacuation advisory for the following neighborhoods: Chrisan, Forest River (including Maple Prairie and Orchard Glen), Round Hill, Granberg, Amber Plains, Rivershore, Heritage Hills, Eagles Nest, Butcher Block. Residents, including volunteers working in those areas, are advised to evacuate during daylight hours. For assistance, call 701-241-5793.

Susan Thoeming Cagle has advised that Prairie St Johns has begun evacuation of patients. For people who are having emergent psychiatric crises (feel suicidal or homicidal without the ability to keep themselves safe), please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Similarly, if you are detoxing from alcohol or benzos (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonipin, etc), withdrawal can be life-threatening and you should seek emergency medical help if needed.

Moorhead Public Schools just announced they’ll close schools all next week. Fargo Public Schools expects to cancel school all next week according to Superintendent of Fargo Schools Rick Buresh. Posted 03.27.2009 at 12:48 PM.

Concordia school has canceled classes through April 5th.