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Flood risk falling in Fargo-Moorhead

March 31, 2019

Optimism is rising — tentatively — that the impacts of spring flooding across Minnesota will continue to be minimal this year, as near-perfect conditions remain in the forecast.

Officials in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead announced Friday that they are pulling back on the flood preparations that have been in full swing since spring began.

Fargo officials planned to suspend sandbag operations Friday evening and are downgrading flood preparations in response to nearly ideal spring weather conditions that are reducing the flood risk along the Red River.

On the Minnesota side of the rising river, Moorhead will “pause sandbag operations” this afternoon and “wait for additional information” before deciding if additional sandbags are needed.

The National Weather Service will issue a deterministic flood forecast as early as this weekend that sets a target for a specific flood stage the Red River is expected to reach, and helps engineers fine-tune flood preparations.

Fargo has a strategy of preparing for worst-case flood scenarios, and that’s why the city initially planned to fill a million sandbags.

”It’s easy to ramp down. It’s very difficult to sit on your hands and then try to ramp up when time is really your enemy. So I would say in this case, it’s worked exactly like we hoped it would,” said Fargo City Administrator Bruce Grubb.

With the reduced flood risk, Fargo will likely need fewer than 400,000 sandbags; the city will end sandbag filling operations at 7 p.m. Friday. City engineers will spend the weekend recalculating what flood protection is needed, and present an updated plan on Monday.

Mayor Tim Mahoney said he’s happy the city can slow its flood preparations.

”We’ve been really pleased that the public’s come out on our sandbagging, worked with us on this, and hit the goals we asked for every day,” Mahoney said. “(This) once again reaffirms the community is ready to stand in case of a flood and help us out.”

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