Valley City, Lisbon prepare for record crests
Valley City and Lisbon, N.D., are preparing for unprecedented Sheyenne River flooding this coming week.
The Sheyenne, at 17.37 feet Friday afternoon in Valley City, could hit 22.3 feet Tuesday or Wednesday, the National Weather Service predicts. Record flood stage is 20 feet.
In Lisbon, the Sheyenne was at 17.48 feet, but will rise sharply this weekend. The weather service predicts it could hit 22.9 feet by Friday. Record flood stage is 19.3 feet there.
Meanwhile, the Sheyenne was breaking its banks in Cass County, and is expected to flood areas north and south of West Fargo and Fargo at levels not seen since 1997, Emergency Operations Manager Keith Berndt said.
Ransom County Emergency Manager Terese Rotenberger urged residents in Lisbon and rural areas to be prepared for evacuation.
She suggests they fuel their vehicles, have cash on hand, and gather needed medicines, clothing, important papers and valuables. She also said people should temporarily move pets to areas not threatened by flooding. If sirens go off, she said people should turn on their radios or TVs to get needed information.
Rotenberger added that volunteers are needed at the Ransom County fairgrounds to make sandbags.
"The Ransom County fitness program is open to anyone who would like to participate," she quipped.
She urges people to call toll-free (866) 706-0203 if they have questions or need help.
'Ready as we can be'
In Valley City, Mayor Mary Lee Nielson said the city's dikes were expected to be at 24 feet Friday night. Contingency dikes were going up at the hospital, university and in some neighborhoods.
Releases from Lake Ashtabula through the Baldhill Dam are at 7,000 cubic feet per second, so high new river graphs had to be made, Nielson said.
Nearly 100 National Guard troops walk the dikes and take care of pumps, she said.
"We're as ready as we can be," she said.
Barnes County Sheriff Gene Bjerke advised no unneeded travel on county and township roads due to flooding and washouts.
Bjerke and Nielson said volunteers are needed at the Winter Shows building in Valley City for sandbagging from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today.
Fargo-Moorhead just about ready
The second crest of the Red in Fargo-Moorhead is still expected to be 38 to 40 feet between Thursday and Saturday, said Bill Barrett, a meteorologist at the Grand Forks, N.D., National Weather Service office.
As of 10:15 p.m. Friday, the Red was at 31.85 feet and climbing, the weather service reported.
The weather service Web site puts a possible crest at 39.3 feet Thursday. Earlier graphs put it at 38.7 feet.
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker doesn't think the river will get that high.
"Things look pretty decent. We're hoping that everyone has a nice Easter Sunday," Walaker said.
Moorhead officials are confident the city's first line of defense - sandbag dikes along the Red - will hold. To reduce problems from storm sewer backup, the city is blocking storm sewer outflows to the river.
Pumps are being placed around Moorhead to handle rain and meltwater.
At a meeting Friday in south Moorhead, officials told residents living near a coulee that a ditch will be left open to the Red River to allow drainage. But if the river starts filling the coulee, sandbags will be dropped by helicopter to cut it off from the river.
In Cass County, Berndt said water from the Sheyenne was rising in Country Acres south of Horace. He said some residents were sandbagging.
West of West Fargo, the Little Creek subdivision may also see high water, Berndt said.
Most problems will come north of West Fargo, he predicts, as breakout water from the Sheyenne meets with the bloated Red River to create sheets of water east of Interstate 29.
"It may become one big lake up there," Berndt said.
Ice jam precautions
Because of ice jams, West Fargo put dikes along Sheyenne Street/County Road 17 on the city's south side overnight Thursday.
The dikes were to prevent overflows from the river from sheeting across roads, officials said.
Public Works Director Barry Johnson said the city added material to some older dikes, just in case.
But the ice broke up overnight.
"We're in real good shape," City Administrator Jim Brownlee said. "That ice has been giving us some concern. We had a backhoe at every bridge in case the ice jammed up."
Forum reporter Dave Olson contributed to this report.