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Published April 29, 2013, 09:27 PM

Missed flood projection costs millions

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- The question now is, how many tax dollars were spent with a projection missing by at least 5 feet? The answer...in the millions.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- The question now is, how many tax dollars were spent with a projection missing by at least 5 feet? The answer...in the millions.

But some at city hall are upset anyone would think it's wasted money. We saw a lot of commotion in the last week, come to find out the only visible work needed was this 2nd street dike.

We were led to believe this could be the big one, surpassing 2009 by a foot or more. It was the National Weather Service's headline at the last probabilistic forecast.

Greg Gust/National Weather Service/1 week ago: "warming up to the 40's. still some overnight freezing. NO precipitation whatsoever. And we'll still have a big flood.."

A week and half later we can look back and say we had a perfect melt, very little precip, but the forecast missed by 5 feet or possibly more.

That day the projection given to Fargo leaders, almost a guarantee, 95% chance the river goes above 39 feet, 50/50 it goes above 40 feet.

What were city leaders to do but plan for well above 40?

Dr. Mahoney: " when we look at all the engineers have to do when they suddenly say that to us, we really have to scramble to get ready."

The city was able to scale back efforts with sandbagging and the 2nd street levees, still the 2013 flood that wasn't will end up costing around 2-million dollars.

For comparison:

2011 cost 6.4-million.

2010 2.5 million.

And 2009 was at 8.4 million.

And at tonight's commission meeting, a rather emphatic Mayor Walaker made it clear he didn't want anyone complaining that 2 million dollars was wasted this time around.

Mayor Walaker: "anyone who wants to make the decisions on us spending too much money or criticizing us for that I think it's extremely early in the process since we haven't even gotten a crest yet. We have estimates right now that if we fail it would be in the billions of dollars if we fail."

Now because this crest is significantly lower, cleanup will be much faster.

Because of that cleanup week in Fargo, which was pushed back to September, is now back to next week.

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