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Moorhead mayor declares flood emergency; sandbag filling to start next week with goal of 150,000

Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd declares a flood emergency from Moorhead City Hall on Friday, March 22, 2019. David Samson / The Forum1 / 2
Moorhead City Engineer Bob Zimmerman speaks about the possible crest height of the Red River from Moorhead City Hall on Friday, March 22, 2019. David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

MOORHEAD — The city of Moorhead will begin filling sandbags next week in anticipation of flooding this spring, with the city setting its initial goal at 150,000.

That news followed an emergency flood declaration by Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd on Friday morning, March 22, which the city council was expected to affirm at a meeting set for 3 p.m. Friday.

Moorhead filled about 2.5 million sandbags to fight the flood of 2009, which reached a record 40.84 feet in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The National Weather Service has said there is a 5 percent chance the flood of 2019 will exceed that record level, and Moorhead officials said Friday they are preparing for a possible flood crest of between 40 and 41 feet.

Judd said that since the 2009 flood, Moorhead has taken many steps to mitigate flood issues, including the purchase of 263 flood-prone properties and the building of 12.1 miles of levees and flood walls.

In addition, he said, the city has installed 78 sewer gates to protect the city sewer system from backing up during floods.

Judd said in 2009 the city built 9 miles of clay dikes. Today, he said, just 1.6 miles of clay dike will be required to achieve the desired level of protection.

Moorhead officials said they will announce specifics Monday, March 25, regarding sandbagging efforts, which are to start about the middle of next week.

City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said a river stage of 38 feet would threaten about 40 private properties in Moorhead, while a stage of 41 feet would threaten about 108 properties.

Zimmerman said about 40 homes in the Oakport neighborhood, which was annexed in 2015, may require sandbagging this spring. The city said it will provide the sandbags.

Zimmerman said the homes in Oakport that could be affected by a flood are mostly located between 45th Avenue North and Wall Street.