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North Dakota Floods

Posted by feww on March 27, 2009

Red River in Fargo, N.D. may see a 12.5m (41-ft) crest by Saturday breaking an all-time record by 0.3m set in 1897.

US President Obama has declared North Dakota a federal disaster area because of record flooding across the state.


Source: NWC/NOAA

About 20,000 volunteers and 1,000 national guards are bagging sand for levees. More than 1.5 million bags have been filled so far, a report said.

More than a thousand students and residents of Fargo gather at the Fargodome on Monday evening to make sandbags around the clock to help prevent the nearby Red River from flooding. Photo By Garrett Hubbard, USA TODAY. Image may be subject to copyright.

North Dakota and Minnesota are preparing for the worst flooding in more than 100 years, affecting farmer decision to plant wheat this spring.

The U.S. Agriculture Department predicts about ½ million hectares (~ 1 million acres) acres in North Dakota will go unseeded this spring, half of which is due to the flooding and the other half prompted by lower wheat prices.

The North Dakota Wheat Commission had already expected wheat plantings from  North Dakota, as well as Minnesota, Montana  and South Dakota to fall by about 5 percent from 5.2  million in 2008 to under 5 million hectares this year.

“Producers want to grow a crop, that’s how they generate their income, but if you just perpetually get stuck all the time or you mud a crop in … it’s like playing in the mud when you’re a kid. It gets hard and packed and pretty poor (for) germination.” Said Jim Peterson, marketing director of the farmer-run N.D. Wheat Commission.

“Western North Dakota, out of the reach of the Red River, is also fighting floods because of ice jams on the Missouri River. The number of residents forced to evacuate statewide was not available on Thursday.” Reuters reported.

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One Response to “North Dakota Floods”

  1. feww said

    Last Updated: March 28, 2009 00:01 EDT

    North Dakota Flood Sets Fargo Record, Forces Thousands to Flee
    By Brian K. Sullivan

    March 28 (Bloomberg) — The Red River is forecast to rise higher today after breaking a 112-year-old record in Fargo and forcing more than a quarter of the residents in a town across the waterway in Minnesota to flee their homes.

    Officials in Moorhead, Minnesota, recommended 10,000 evacuations yesterday, said Doug Neville, a spokesman for the Minnesota Emergency Operations Center. About 38,000 people live in the town, which neighbors Fargo, North Dakota. The river is the border for the two states.

    “We’re telling people, urging them strongly to leave, compelling them,” Neville said by telephone from St. Paul, Minnesota. “Once this crests at 43 feet, about the size of the sandbag walls there, all bets are off.”

    At Fargo, the river climbed to 40.7 feet (12.4 meters) as of 2:15 p.m. Chicago time yesterday, almost 23 feet above the flood point, and eclipsing the previous record of 40.1 feet, set in April 1897, according to the weather service.

    Nancy Ward, acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was in Fargo to ensure federal aid gets to the right places, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at a briefing yesterday.

    Federal officials moved 16 truckloads of food to the region in anticipation of assisting as many as 30,000 Fargo residents, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. An additional 96 loads and a C-130 cargo plane were on the way, she said.

    Relying on Sandbags

    A leaking levee in Fargo, the state’s largest city, prompted 40 families to leave their residences the day before yesterday, Cecily Fong, a spokeswoman for North Dakota Emergency Services, said by telephone. Workers have stacked hundreds of thousands of sandbags against waters that may not subside for a week, compounding the city’s challenges.

    “The longer sandbags sit and hold back water, the less stable they could become,” Patrick Slattery, a National Weather Service spokesman in Kansas City, Missouri, said by phone.

    “Everything that can be done is being done,” Napolitano said in a speech in Arlington, Virginia. Helping residents is “a top priority now.”

    The waters will probably reach 42 feet today in Fargo, the weather service said. Fargo, where the dikes are 43 feet high, has a population of about 100,800, according to local police.

    The floodwaters are expected to stay at or near crest for at least a week because the area is flat and there is still snow left to melt over water-saturated, frozen ground, Slattery said.

    The river may rise as high as 43 feet in Fargo, depending on the speed of the snowmelt and the volume of water feeding in from tributaries, Slattery said.

    ‘Worst-Case Scenario’

    “The 43 feet is figured as the worst-case scenario if everything went as bad as it could,” Slattery said. “We’re not expecting that, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

    Seeding of spring wheat in North Dakota may face “major delays” after snow fell in growing areas, Minneapolis-based DTN Meteorlogix LLC said in a report March 25.

    “It could be quite a while before people get into fields or before they actually are able to get anything done,” said Dawn Smith-Pfeifer, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Farm Bureau in Bismarck. “It’s really a mess out there. Whether it’s the Red River or Missouri or creeks out here, we have water everywhere.”

    Wheat futures for May delivery fell 5 cents yesterday, or 0.8 percent, to about $6.08 a bushel on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange where spring wheat is traded. Spring varieties, high in protein and used to make bread and pasta, are seeded from April, mostly in the U.S. northern Great Plains.

    Emergency Declarations

    Republican Governor John Hoeven declared a flood emergency across the state, while the federal government declared a major disaster area and a public health emergency. Rain and snow blanketed the region this week, covering ground already saturated by snow and rain earlier in the season.

    President Barack Obama also declared an emergency in parts of Minnesota, where flood warnings have been issued for the western part of the state.

    The declaration allows state and local governments and some agencies to ask for federal money and resources.

    The Red River, which flows north into Canada, is also flooding around Winnipeg, 220 miles (354 kilometers) downstream.

    Flooding shouldn’t be as severe in Canada, said Alf Warkentin, a forecaster with Manitoba’s provincial government.

    “Don’t be too alarmed by the news you are hearing from Fargo,” Warkentin said yesterday in a televised press conference. “The odds of a 1997-type flood are now well below 10 percent. We could still be looking at a very serious flood.”

    Flooding in April 1997 was the worst in 100 years and caused $5 billion in damage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It led Grand Forks, about 81 miles north of Fargo, to build a $450 million levee system, said city spokesman Kevin Dean.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at
    Last Updated: March 28, 2009 00:01 EDT
    Copyright Bloomberg LP

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