WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 01, 2010, 08:15 AM

Engineers in Fargo have a plan to reduce amount of sandbagging needed

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Engineers in Fargo have come up with a design to put up dikes at seven strategic areas in town. The plan is to put up earthen levees in these areas to reduce the amount of sandbagging and hesko barriers needed. Engineers say if they're built, there will be a night and day difference between last spring's flood fight, and another possible one this spring.

Engineers first proposed the plan to during a neighborhood meeting last week in Southwood. They say people there were extremely receptive, and actually asked if they could add to the plan.

“We're seeing a lot of worried faces out there and broken down bodies that are just tired of throwing sandbags.”

These earthen levees would be cut down the number of sandbags needed in these neighborhoods by two-thirds. In a flood like last spring's, Timberline needs about 130 thousand sandbags, with this plan, only about 30 thousand. While these levees aren't as effective as permanent protection, engineers say they're the next best option.

“We can't get back in to those neighborhoods, so it's got to be there, so we've got the protection level.”

Areas like Oak Grove and Mickelson field are also on the list. The flood-prone areas would finally get a break, and peace of mind.

“If they are built at all, they should be built in my opinion up to 44 feet because then you're protected to a reasonable flood level.”

The 4th Street dike would also be raised; last year sandbags and port-a-dams topped it off. City engineers say the corps of engineers thinks the plan can work.

“And so they would be constructed by the Corps and post-flood we would work with them to try and leave as many of them as possible, but they would not be certifiable or remove everyone from the flood plain.”

Bittner says if city leaders want to get this plan into action, the trigger has to be pulled within the next week. The idea will be presented this week during neighborhood meetings at the Fargo Civic Center.

Fargo City Engineers are asking for some help. They say if we have a flood like last spring, they need more people out in the field.

During Fargo's special meeting tonight, City Engineer Mark Bittner asked commissioners to hire help from outside engineering firms. Bittner says they need more coverage in neighborhoods, to help direct volunteers and coordinate operations; commissioners agreed.

“So apparently some of the engineers got grumpy last year, so this will help have happier engineers in the field and they'll get home to see their family once in a while.”

Fargo firefighters will also be helping engineers cover neighborhoods.

Oakport Township is narrowing down its flood flight plans. A meeting is being held tonight to update residents on plans for temporary levees. The township is considering putting up 3 levees ahead of the spring flood. If the Army Corps can’t fund it, each homeowner could have to pay up to 2-thousand dollars.