Flood curiosity runs high in Moorhead
Hundreds pack a large meeting room Thursday evening at the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead to learn about the city's preparations for a spring flood. Photo by Dave Olson / The Forum
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Turnout was impressive Tuesday at Moorhead's first flood meeting of the year, but the crowd at Thursday's follow-up was, in the words of Mayor Mark Voxland, pretty outstanding.
"We really do appreciate it," Voxland told those who showed up at the Courtyard by Marriott to hear the city's flood-fighting plan for 2011.
Tuesday's meeting, intended for properties north of 12th Avenue South, attracted between 200 and 300 people, and some were left standing because chairs were at a premium.
Thursday's meeting was for properties south of 12th Avenue South, and officials were ready with 500 chairs.
That was still not enough for the group that showed up.
For some, interest seemed based more on curiosity than concern.
"I'm not even worried about it this year," said Dave Arnholt, who attended Thursday's meeting with his wife, Mary.
The Arnholts live near Horn Park, where many homes have been removed as part a city buyout of flood-prone properties.
"It looks like a hill," Mary Arnholt said of the stretch of riverfront where the houses used to be.
"It almost looks natural, the way they did it," her husband said.
Thursday's meeting opened with an overview from City Engineer Bob Zimmerman, who said Moorhead officials have been talking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the possibility of the corps building a levee in south Moorhead.
The work would be done near the Red River in the area between 20th Avenue South and the Interstate 94 bridge, a stretch where a large number of homes were removed as part of the buyout program.
"We don't, at this point, have any indication they will do this," Zimmerman said, adding that officials hope if the work is done, it will happen well before the river starts to rise.
Zimmerman said historically floods have occurred in April, but recent years have proven how unpredictable flooding can be.
"We're not counting on it being an April event," he said.
According to Zimmerman, one question Moorhead officials often hear is whether flood-protection projects built on the Fargo side of the Red River will put Moorhead neighborhoods at greater risk.
He said all of the levees constructed or raised in Fargo and Moorhead in recent years have been built to protect against the same river height, between 43.5 and 44 feet.
The same, he said, is true for floodwalls, which have been built to a height of 45 feet on both sides of the river.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555