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WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 09, 2010, 09:39 AM

Officials say its not too early to plan for spring flooding

(WDAY TV) - What we have here in the Red River Valley is a recipe for a flood and the National Weather Service says it’s not too early to start preparing for a major one. Greg Gust of NWS told a crowd of Minnesota leaders the dynamite is set and a rapid snowmelt would light the fuse. He says additional moisture will also be a big determining factor.

He says the major ingredients of a flood like fall moisture, base stream flow, river ice, snow pack and frost depth are looking a lot like it did at this time last year and it's not too early to plan for the worst.

“With no other water coming down we're still looking at moderate, and in the case of Fargo Moorhead coming in on the Red we're still pushing hard on the minimal major flood stage.”

Gust also went through means of communicating with the Weather Service during a flood. Several river level maps, information, and live communication opportunities are available at www.weather.gov/fgf.

Clay County leaders are taking the "be prepared" orders seriously, already lining up volunteers, state aid, sandbag supplies and more.

“Way ahead of the game, we're going to be ready this year.”

Things are looking a lot different around this emergency management warehouse than this time last year. Sandbag supplies in the county including Moorhead's is already approaching 2 and half million with 200-thousand being stored in Oakport.

“Instead of having a few weeks to prepare we have a few months.”

Emergency services manager Bryan Green says they've even worked out details with different entities like MSUM to organize volunteers, including where to take them and how to get them there. The Minnesota National Guard, DNR and Army Corps of Engineers are also gearing up.

“They're ready to pack their bags.”

All in case we have a repeat of last year's record breaking flood.

“Last year we would have a meeting and all of a sudden the Weather Service would up it a few feet and we'd be like wow. And then we'd have a week to do whatever we needed to do. Right now we know what it takes to plan up to 42 feet or so, so we're prepared for that.”

Clay County commissioners approved beginning flood operations at the emergency operations center location. Last year they had to evacuate their original office because of flood concerns. The county even arranged a place for media briefings. It'll utilize some of the empty space here at the Moorhead Center Mall.

Weather in the coming weeks will determine what kind of a flood fight we'll have. Green says the plans in place are for flood levels up to forty feet. Sheriff Bergquist says it's time for individuals to prepare as well, like planning what to do if school is canceled or if you have miss work because of flooding or to help sandbag.

With a call for one million sandbags in Fargo, city leaders are now trying to find two indoor sites to get the job done. Work will begin on filling those sandbags on March first.

Leaders say there needs to be a place to store sandbags until they're needed and placed. The building known as Sandbag Central during the 2009 flood will be used again, but leaders need another indoor warehouse facility. They're shying away from using the Fargodome, because they don't want to hurt its business. Plus after using the dome last spring, there was a large clean-up fee.

“So we've looked at what they have scheduled, and we've identified a week in March where, if we need to utilize the Fargodome, that'll be kind of a last resort.”

The city will work with FirstLink again for any volunteer needs. Those details are still being figured out.

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