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Cass County Commission declares flood emergenc

FARGO - The Cass County Commission voted 4-0 Monday to declare a countywide emergency so departments and employees can prepare for spring flooding.

The emergency declaration comes three days after the National Weather Service released a flood outlook report predicting the Red River will exceed 32.3 feet in Fargo, which is considered major flooding.

Commissioners also approved using the county's $400,000 emergency fund to pay for flood prevention efforts such as filling sandbags.

Dave Rogness, the county's emergency management coordinator, said the county has 50,000 sandbags. He noted this year's predicted river levels are near those reported in 2006 and officials used twice that amount, so emergency funding will be used to buy an additional 50,000 sandbags.

County Engineer Keith Berndt said the emergency declaration also brings the possibility of building levees, depending on how high the river levels rise. Two areas Berndt suggested for levees are south of Fargo near the Wild Rice River and County Road 81.

Sheriff Paul Laney said his department's licensed personnel are ready to go into emergency mode for flooding if needed. His employees will be divided into four response teams to provide services on a 24-hour basis.

In other business, commissioners approved using economic stimulus funds for two rural county highway projects. Berndt said the county is receiving up to $987,000 from the state Department of Transportation.

Berndt said the stimulus money will be used for an overlay project on County Road 4 and to build a new box culvert for County Road 7 over the Maple River.