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WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 22, 2012, 10:24 PM

Sandbag Central: What a difference a year makes

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's a stark contrast. Last year at this time, thousands were filling sandbags every day in preparation for what would be Fargo-Moorhead's 4th highest flood on record.

It's a stark contrast. Last year at this time, thousands were filling sandbags every day in preparation for what would be Fargo-Moorhead's 4th highest flood on record.

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time there was more than a 70% chance of major flooding in Fargo-Moorhead; this year it’s 6%. It has city officials breathing a cautious sigh of relief.

Lee Anderson – Fargo Public Works: “It’s really nice to at least feel like you're not going to have to dig into these sandbags.”

Sandbag after sandbag; One year ago Fargo's Waste facility-AKA Sandbag Central-was full steam ahead for nearly three weeks, making millions of sandbags. The Fargo Engineering Department wasn't getting much sleep either.

April Walker – Fargo City Engineer: “A lot of public meetings, a lot of planning, a lot of preparation for the upcoming flood, busy days, long days.”

Fast forward 365 days, and everyone's playing a little catch-up.

April Walker: “It's a chance to not get behind for the engineering department, which is good.”

Sandbag Central is now a storage facility for dozens of city vehicles and dump trucks, and Fargo's Flood Warehouse has undergone a complete makeover.

Lee Anderson: “It was a bunch of this stuff just shoved in here.”

After a winter with little snow and hardly any chance of flood it's organized. Inside: two spider machines, about 200 pumps, nearly 3 million empty sandbags and thousands of other flood-fighting tools. Fingers crossed, it's shaping up to be a much different 2012.

Lee Anderson: “Moving to that next phase, doing regular spring and summer work without waiting until June to get started because we're cleaning up flood debris.”

City officials say they are ready though. If a freak event happens, Anderson says a new Sandbag Central could be up and running in about a day. The city also has roughly half-a-million sandbags in still in storage.

With only a six-percent chance of flooding this year, very few people showed up to tonight's FEMA flood preparedness meeting. Local, state and federal representatives highlighted the importance of obtaining flood insurance no matter the risk. One example officials used of the thousands of buildings lost in Minot, under 400 had flood insurance. Those outside of the 100 year floodplain can purchase insurance for as little as $400 a year.

Norm Ashford – National Flood Insurance Specialist: “We're always telling people to protect themselves, prepare as you can, protect yourself as you can and never say never.”

There is still a 33% chance of minor-flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

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