WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 18, 2013, 10:05 PM

Hospitals ready for big flood

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Area hospitals are making their own preparations for the upcoming flood.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Area hospitals are making their own preparations for the upcoming flood.

In 2009, Prairie St. John's and what is now Sanford had to evacuate patients. How are they preparing this year?

The city of Fargo is starting off on a better foot than they did in 2009, when hospitals had to evacuate.

The city now has about fourteen and a half more miles of permanent levees and a more proactive approach.

But with ill patients (some critically ill) and expensive equipment, area hospitals aren't taking any chances.

Sanford Fargo President Dennis Millirons says they feel "absolutely ready" for this year's flood.

About 35,000 sandbags will protect the downtown campus from an extreme flooding situation.

Dennis Millirons, Sanford Fargo President: "The only reason we do any protection for the downtown campus is if in the event that there is a failure."

In 2009, Governor Hoeven ordered evacuations for all Fargo hospitals near the River. What was then Meritcare moved 180 patients overnight to other hospitals around the region.

It was the hospital's first evacuation of any kind in its 100 year history and Millirons says a repeat is unlikely.

Millirons: "I don't anticipate that we'll need to do an evacuation but certainly we are experienced at that and we would have help from many sources if we needed to do that."

Another hospital that had to evacuate in 2009 is Prairie St. John's. They treat people with psychiatric conditions and addictions. And they are also preparing for whatever comes our way this time.

Back then, 73 patients were evacuated and moved to other hospitals. Hospital officials say staff members are attending city briefings and are prepared to respond however needed and both Prairie and Sanford say they will make adjustments as the river rises.

Millirons is echoing what many city officials have said, which is that we need a diversion for permanent flood protection.