ST. PAUL -- Two-hundred Minnesota National Guard soldiers will join the Moorhead-area flood fight today.
Col. Dirk Kloss of the Guard said the soldiers will help patrol dikes and provide "a quick reaction force" to conduct dike repairs.
Activating the soldiers came shortly after Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday signed an executive order declaring flood emergencies in 46 counties and two American Indian communities. Dayton's action allows the state to provide local governments with a variety of help, including Guardsmen.
Kloss said the first troops to be deployed to help with flooding will be in Moorhead and nearby Oakport and Georgetown townships.
John Margraf of the National Weather Service said the Red River crest in Moorhead and elsewhere will be near record levels for a couple of weeks.
Along the Minnesota River, Margraf said, crests in coming days likely will be lower than last week's first crests. Mississippi River and St. Croix River waters will be slightly higher than last week, he added.
The Stillwater Lift Bridge is expected to close Friday morning.
"The weather is fairly quiet this week, fortunately," Margraf said, and predicted weekend rains would need to be very heavy before they would significantly increase flooding.
"We are cautiously optimistic," Setter said, adding that so far no significant flood damage has been reported.
Despite relatively good news, Setter warned that "this is a very dangerous situation." That is true especially in places like Moorhead, he said, where "there is a lot of water moving through very fast."
With the Dayton executive order, Adjutant General Richard Nash, head of the state National Guard, now has authority to activate personnel, with needed equipment, to flight floods or provide relief.
Nash also may buy or lease goods needed to provide the aid.
Also available are employees and equipment from many state agencies, including the Department of Transportation.
On Friday, key legislators plan to visit the Moorhead area to see the flooding themselves.
Sens. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and David Senjem, R-Rochester, will lead a bipartisan delegation of Senate and House legislators. Ingebrigtsen and Senjem lead key committees to provide flood funds.
Lawmakers will tour the North Ottawa area and the Breckenridge flood control project before hosting a Moorhead flood impact and update hearing with more than a dozen local officials.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.