Live-blogging: Flood update

The daily briefing of public safety and government officials is underway in Fargo. The mayor of Moorhead, Mark Voxland , has been invited over and both are stressing that neither city ignores the other.

8:04 a.m. – Voxland says they hope to have all the sandbag dikes up to 42 feet today. He credits GPS technology with improving the flood preparations this year. Members of the Moorhead Fire Department (I wrote about this below) check all the homeowner and city walls with GPS to make sure they’re all at 42 feet.

8:06 a.m. – The Army Corps of Engineers says it needs a day and a half to complete preparations and most are in the southern end of Fargo. The Moorhead side of the river should be “buttoned up” by this afternoon. Then the National Guard will be redeployed to the north side of the city.

Aside: I exchanged e-mails last night with one volunteer who was helping a friend in the southern end of Moorhead, who says the house has now been cut off because sandbagging and dike work completely encircled the neighborhood. In those cases, would you stay in the home or would you go?

8:09 a.m. – Officials have been asking people not to use much water. They’re concerned about the sewage treatment plant be overloaded, although officials said the amount of “flow” dropped overnight. This is another upgrade from the flood of ’97.

In Oxbow, the sewage treatment plant has failed and the pumps are “flooded” out. The National Guard is delivering another pump today.

8:14 a.m. – It snowed about 3-4″ overnight. The city’s are not plowing the neighborhoods.

8:15 a.m. – Fargo officials say they don’t need as many volunteers now. There are areas where they don’t want to bring busloads of volunteers, they’d rather have neighbors doing the sandbagging, City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said.

8:19 a.m. – A city official says at 5 p.m. yesterday, there were trucks loaded with sandbags at both sandbagging locations “with no orders left to fill.” They’re still making sandbags — 150,000 are in heated storage — in the event additional ones are needed.

8:21 a.m. — Here’s a live stream of downtown Fargo, from

8:22 a.m. — Police officers are on 12-hour shifts. Signs have been posted on the dikes ordering people to stay off. The Guard and police are patrolling the dikes looking for areas where they may be failing.

8:25 a.m. – Fargo City Manager Pat Zavoral: “We’re winding down. But if people want to do some sandbag filling, we’re going to do that.”

8:28 a.m. – A national Weather Service official, Greg Gust, from Grand Forks says the snow “is not an immediate player.” They’re still looking for a 40-foot crest early Saturday morning. “We have record flow coming from the south,” he said. He says it’s “scary.” “It’s uncharted territory for the flood plains,” he said.

8:32 a.m. – Health official says they’re encouraging nursing homes and hospitals ‘to reduce their census.” She suggests canceling elective surgery, sending patients home earlier. They’re also identifying people in the area who are living at home, and “who may need extra help relocating if that becomes necessary.”

8:33 a.m. – Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker “Elective surgeries is one thing but some can’t be forestalled. They have backup generators.” He says he’s told the hospitals to be ‘self contained,” in order to stay open.

8:35 a.m. – North Dakota State University has canceled classes through Thursday. The university, however, has not been closed. “We want to keep those jobs flowing,” an NDSU official said.

8:38 a.m. – Salvation Army served 9500 sandwiches on Tuesday, serving 38,000 people. 130,000 bottles of water. $30,000 of local Salvation Army money has been spent. “It scares the heck out of me to see what we’re doing,” an official said.

8:39 a.m. – Walaker joked that he was taken to task in 1997 for his comment on the quality of the sandwiches served in the great flood of ’97. “They have improved dramatically,” he said,

8:39 a.m. – Interstate 29 north of Fargo will be closed soon. The northbound side from Wahpeton, ND has been reopened.

— End —

This morning I’m staying on the Moorhead side and talking to some more neighbors who are switching to wait-and-see mode.