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Fargo starts preparing for recovery and cleanup, Cass continues fighting floodwaters

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FARGO - The flood fight effort is winding down in Fargo, with officials looking at recovery and cleanup as the threat of the Red River's second crest continues to diminish.

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The city plans to continue neighborhood meetings about cleanup, and set priorities in taking down earthen dikes throughout the city.

A storm tracking for the Red River Valley now appears to be headed further south, and likely will drop about a quarter inch of rain in the river basin, said Mark Ewens, data manager with the National Weather Service.

"It will have minimal impact," Ewens said during a flood coordination meeting this morning in Fargo. "We are looking much better than we thought."

Forecasters say the less than anticipated precipitation and may prompt a downward revision to the Red's flood crest, currently expected to be about 37 feet later this week. The Red was at 33.71 feet at 8:15 this morning and climbing.

Fargo officials said they'll begin sandbag removal and cleanup following the second crest.

The city's first priority will be removing earthen dikes, first on arterial streets. Crews will then move to local streets before continuing to non-street dikes, like those on Park District land.

It's expected to take two to three weeks to remove clay and Hesco sand barriers in the city.

Priorities for removing sandbags have not been set because residents must sign legal waivers before the work begins.

The Army Corps of Engineers will contract for sandbag removal, most likely with the Fargo School District.

Officials anticipate students will be able to be paid for the work.

"I think this is really going to be a nice opportunity for our students," Superintendent Rick Buresh said.

The Park District also is looking to re-open some of its golf courses by next week.

In rural Cass County, residents continue to face significant overland flooding, especially north of West Fargo between Cass County Road 17 and the Sheyenne River.

The county also is monitoring overland flooding near Kindred, and expects problems in the southern stretches of Cass.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency opens its office at the Cass County Annex today for Fargo and county property owners with damage. Those reporting damage should first register with FEMA by calling (800) 621-3362 or online at disasterassistance.gov.

Sheriff Paul Laney described roads as "horrible," adding that roads are pitted and gutted. Some roads have 20- to 40-foot sections wiped out by overland flooding.

Residents living north of West Fargo have been isolated for weeks, and residents in southern Cass will again see high water.

"The north end (of the Sheyenne River) is full and the south end is starting to get filled up," Laney said.

As the flood fight wanes in Fargo, the city is sending sandbags to others affected by water. More than 110,000 sandbags have been sent to Valley City, Lisbon, Kindred, Jamestown and rural Cass County residents.

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