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Published January 31, 2011, 02:31 PM

Fargo Officials Brief Gov. Dalrymple on Flood Prep

North Dakota has more tools to tackle flooding this year than it did in 2009 when the Red River crested at a record level in the Fargo area, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Monday.

By: Associated Press,

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota has more tools to tackle flooding this year than it did in 2009 when the Red River crested at a record level in the Fargo area, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Monday.

Dalrymple told city and county leaders that the North Dakota National Guard will contribute all its resources toward the flood fight and said financing from the state won't be an issue.

"We will hold nothing in reserve," Dalrymple said.

The National Weather Service projects a 20 to 25 percent chance residents in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., area could see Red River flooding that approaches record levels set in the spring of 2009, when thousands were forced to evacuate.

Flood stage for the Red River in Fargo is 18 feet. It crested in 2009 at nearly 41 feet. City engineers plan to build the earthen levees to 44 feet and place the sandbag dikes to 43 feet.

"This is earlier than we normally get together," said Dalrymple, who was previously the state's lieutenant governor. "Just when you think we've had the flood of a lifetime, we see another one of these forecasts.

"I hate to say it, but I think you have the best flood fighters in America," he said.

Dalrymple said the state's National Guard troops contributed 53,000 man days to the 2009 flood. That came at a time when many troops were deployed overseas and had much of the Guard's heavy equipment with them, he said.

"We're in a bit of a low point right now in terms of troops deployed overseas," Guard Adjutant General David Sprynczynatyk said.

The state's legislature, which meets every other year, is currently in session and will quickly be available to approve a disaster fund, Dalrymple said. The state spent $20 million on the 2009 flood.

"We can let them know up front that we're going to need that again," the governor said.

The city is planning to begin filling sandbags on Valentine's Day, looking to have 3 million bags on hand by early March. The operation will begin as a volunteer effort among the business leaders, with help from students as needed, said Pat Zavoral, Fargo's city administrator.

"We don't want to use high schoolers and middle schoolers for a month sandbagging," Zavoral said.

About 200,000 people live in the metropolitan area.

Zavoral told Dalrymple that the city needs to receive a presidential disaster declaration "as soon as we can." He said the city has committed to spending about $1.8 million on other flood-control products, such as large interlocking containers known as Hescos and water-filled plastic tubes called Aqua Dams.

The Canadian province of Manitoba, which also is preparing for flooding from the north-flowing Red River, has also put in a rush order for Hescos, Zavoral said.

"We had to pull the trigger in advance of the presidential declaration," Zavoral said.

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