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Moorhead asks for more volunteers, less water use

MOORHEAD - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday urged people across the state to help with the flood battle in western Minnesota, including Moorhead, where residents are being asked to voluntarily curb their water use.

"We are putting all the forces and resources of government into this battle. But the bottom line is, we need volunteers to help with the sandbagging," Pawlenty said during a stop in Moorhead.

At one point, the governor took off his jacket and helped fill sandbags in a north Moorhead neighborhood.

While sandbagging was in full swing Monday, Moorhead officials said some neighborhoods got a late start and much work remains.

"We've got a city to save, and we need to get people out in the next 36 to 48 hours to make sure those dikes are up so we protect our neighborhoods," said Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland.

City Manager Mike Redlinger sent out a thank-you to the large number of students who pitched in to help Monday and who were expected to do so again today.

"They're exactly what we need," Redlinger said.

More than 200 Minnesota National Guard troops were helping the flood fight in Clay and Wilkin counties Monday, and Pawlenty said he expected the number could reach 400.

Moorhead officials are dusting off evacuation plans to prepare for the possibility that some people will be forced from their homes.

In past floods, Minnesota State University Moorhead served as a temporary shelter, but Redlinger said with the campus already being used as a volunteer center, other locations need to be considered.

Residents were asked late Monday to voluntarily cut back on using things such as washing machines and dishwashers, because the city's sanitary sewer system was running at capacity.

Officials said if the Red River reaches 41 feet, there may be water standing in some streets, but they said it cannot be helped because other issues will take priority.

"We're going to accept that," said City Engineer Bob Zimmerman.