FLOOD UPDATE: Walaker: 'We're not through this yet' as Red River rises and colder temps expected
FARGO - City leaders are moving into maintenance mode for this spring's flood fight as they remained cautiously optimistic in the battle against the Red River.
The river's last recorded reading was 33.16 feet at 7:15 this morning. The National Weather Service forecasts the Red to reach 38 feet by early Sunday afternoon.
While the mood at this morning's daily flood briefing was upbeat, Mayor Dennis Walaker reminded residents that the flood fight is far from over.
"We're not through this thing yet," Walaker said. "We are very vulnerable to the weather."
Walaker said maintenance is a dangerous term and urged vigilance, particularly with colder weather expected and the Red continuing to rise.
Unlike last year, when the metro area scrambled to fight back an epic flood, the city hasn't constructed a secondary defensive line of clay levees and Hesco sand barriers.
The weather could still play a factor, city officials warned, as sub-freezing temperatures this weekend could challenge sandbag levees and make them susceptible to leaks.
Overnight lows expected for the weekend are: 20 on Saturday, 18 on Sunday and 15 on Monday.
Police and the North Dakota National Guard plan to begin clay dike patrols today and city officials urged residents to keep watch on sandbag levees in their yards.
Residents must call (701) 476-4199 to report leaks so quick response teams can immediately replace frozen sandbags with fresh, pliable bags. The National Guard and city firefighters will have sandbags positioned throughout Fargo for emergency leaks.
"We also want to rely heavily on private property owners to monitor their own dikes," Police Chief Keith Ternes said.
Even with the call for vigilance in monitoring dikes, city leaders said they were thankful for staff and volunteers who have helped in this spring's flood fight.
"I think what we've seen over the past few days is pretty remarkable," said City Commissioner Tim Mahoney, who called for a moment of silence to give all present a chance to think about those who have helped.
All of the cities levees north of Interstate 94 are in place. Some work on clay and sandbag dikes south of I-94 will be done today, with the aid of Fargo students again.
Enterprise Director Bruce Grubb also wanted to give thanks to firefighters and volunteers, drawing a round of applause from the dozens of people at the briefing.
"A big thanks to our school children," he said.
Walaker also pointed to contractors building the dikes for working around the clock to construct the city's clay barriers.
"We don't give enough credit to the contractors," he said.
Both Mahoney and Walaker stressed diligence in keeping watch on dikes in the coming days.
"A leak can lead to something catastrophic in a hurry," Mahoney said.