Flood Watch: On the ground in Fargo

Mark_Olson.jpgMark Olson is a brand consultant living in Fargo. He’ll be updating us on what’s happening in his community.

My immediate neighborhood is totally calm. No evidence of an impending flood. The threat is weakened greatly by the recent completion of a flood wall and levee that protects the VA Hospital and surrounding neighborhoods.

Immediately south of my home, Elm Street has been closed. It is the lowest street in the city and always the first to close. Adjacent to it, El Zagal golf course is a natural bowl which will fill despite the earthen levee. Mobile pumps already positioned to keep lift stations functional. No sandbagging preparation at the El Zagal Temple, site of a near dike failure last year.

A short distance north of my home, in the Woodcrest neighborhood, no one is sandbagging, but the city has surveyed and marked elevations in everyone’s backyard, indicated with stakes and orange flags. This will provide the key reference point for sandbag dikes, should they be needed. Boxed rolls of poly (plastic), for the waterproof barrier under and outside a sandbag dike, have been dropped off on the driveway of each house that is on the river.

A sole National Guard Humvee was parked at an entry point to the North Oaks neighborhood. It appeared they were getting their bearings.

Near my office downtown, the clay dike that is built to protect city hall has risen from nothing on Sunday morning to what appears to be the height needed to safeguard everything if the crest is 38 feet.

The AT&T building has secured their facility with a low sandbag dike, as they did last year. I’m guessing that this must be a strategic communications link that can’t go down without larger repercussions.

The local newspaper’s web site – InForum – has relayed city and county officials urgent call for sandbaggers in Fargo and Cass County. Schools are dismissing students who volunteer to help.

Plenty of information is available online with daily flood briefing being broadcast on television and radio. No sense of panic whatsoever in my view. Calm confidence in the face of a crest that at 38 feet would be the fourth highest in history, but nothing compared to last year. A sense that it may crest lower than predicted with reports that it has already crested downstream in Wahpeton.

I’m heading out south of Moorhead to help a buddy who lost his fight with the flood last year. I’m sure that he is preparing again to at least meet a 38 foot crest or higher.

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