WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 19, 2010, 08:13 AM

Area experts talk about ways to prevent another record flood

(WDAY TV) - It is being called the changing face of flooding, last spring's record flood highlighted the need for better flood protection in the Red River Valley. Area experts are studying the spring flood and talking about ways to prevent another record flood.

The Red River Basin Land and Water International Summit conference is underway in Grand Forks. Around 350 people were on hand for the first day of the event to hear from flood specialists and give input to long term flood solutions.

Lance Yohe: “Fargo-Moorhead is a huge metropolitan area for our region, and to lose that whole area to a flood would be devastating to the economy and the region.”

Lance Yohe (yoe-he), the Executive Director of the Red River Basin Commission, is working on long term flood solutions in the valley. He also wants to make sure people downstream from Fargo-Moorhead aren't negatively impacted by new flood protection.

Lance Yohe: “If you do a diversion, even the corps models will show there will be some kind of impact downstream for a while.”

The question is how large the impact will be and what could be done to offset that problem. That's why it's important to get a variety of opinions.

Bethany Kurz (EERC): “I managed the waffle project at the EERC for five years, where were looking at a more distributed flood mitigation approach. I think it's critical for the economic vitality of our region to have flood mitigation.”

Lynn Schlueter (Game and Fish): “We want to have a good resource and one that does work with public needs.”

As people at the conference make their voices heard on flooding issues, the commission is coming up with a recommendation for cities throughout the Red River Valley.

Lance Yohe: “There are a lot of complex issues that are all inter-related, and somehow or another we need to get all our arms around it together, collectively.”

That conference continues tomorrow and Thursday in Grand Forks at the Alerus Center. It is open to the public.

The weather has a huge impact on causing and predicting flooding. That's the message WDAY Meteorologist John Wheeler wanted to get across at the Red River Basin Land and Water International Summit conference today.

John talked about how different the floods of '97 and '09 were, and how the weather right before the flood played a huge role.

“They were really two very, very different floods. 97 there was so much snow. Last spring there really was a lot less snow, but in the Fargo area, it was a significantly worse flood.”

John also says people get too "hung up" on river forecasts prepared months in advance that can't use accurate weather forecasts. He also predicts that we haven't seen the largest flood yet.