WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 06, 2011, 04:48 PM

City leaders ask for cooperation with flood fight effort

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Fargo city leaders say all the sandbag and clay levee work should be done by Friday. The wild card in this year's flood fight: Rain this weekend.

All eyes will be on the skies this weekend to see if the expected precipitation will actually hit the ground. But with the Red River rising nearly 4 feet in just 24 hours, and expected to hit 36 feet in the next day and a half, Fargo is calling all volunteers.

The mood among Fargo city leaders is cautious optimism.

DR. ANDY MCLEAN – Psychiatrist: "We need to continue to keep our guard up for the time being."

DENNIS WALAKER - Fargo Mayor: "We accomplished building the sandbags; we got through the deployment and now the placement so that's the next piece of this whole puzzle to prepare for the flood of 2011."

400-thousand bags have been dropped off in neighborhoods. Part of what Fargo is calling their precision flood fighting plan. Now they're asking volunteers to stand up and literally be counted.

DR. TIM MAHONEY - Fargo Deputy Mayor: "When you volunteer, make sure you sign up because that helps us pay for this. It costs a million dollars to go up another foot, so what we try to do is we try to get that reimbursement back."

The Code Red system may come into play if not enough volunteers show up to help.

DR. TIM MAHONEY - Fargo Deputy Mayor: "Iif you get a code red in your neighborhood, you're expected to come help.”

Besides volunteer cooperation, leaders are also asking for motorist cooperation as county roads continue to close due to rising waters. Officials also ask drivers to avoid downtown, as the closure of Second Street is creating congestion on other downtown streets.

For the next three days, the focus remains on getting protection up before the really high waters hit.

DENNIS WALAKER - Fargo Mayor: "Losing to me is not an option.”

Fargo is currently building their sandbag dikes to 41 feet. The city will likely decide Friday if they will add on another foot of protection.

Fargo homeowners who would like to request additional sandbags can call 297-6000. That includes residents along the Sheyenne. Volunteers can call First Link at 476-4000.

Volunteer numbers were more promising in Moorhead today. After a dismal volunteer turnout for the first part of the day yesterday, about 120 people ended up sandbagging Tuesday.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland says he hopes to double those numbers in the coming days. Dozens more homeowners called in requesting sandbags yesterday, though city leaders say not enough residents are sandbagging yet, some are even turning them away. It may lead to the need for contingency dikes.

MICHAEL REDLINGER - Moorhead City Manager: "We don't want to get to that point. Our message is; please help us and help your neighbors by getting out and starting sandbagging today, tomorrow, and Friday so we don't have to get to that point where we do have to consider contingency levees."

Moorhead hopes to have all their sandbagging and earthen levees done by the end of Friday, or early Saturday at the latest.