N.D.governor says flood-fighting focus will be on rural areas west and north of Fargo
FARGO - A prolonged flood fight will be in store for the communities and rural homesteads north and west of Fargo as the Red River slowly retreats.
Officials at a flood briefing this morning expect floodwaters from the Sheyenne, Maple and Rush rivers to disrupt life in rural Cass County for the foreseeable future.
"I think all of our focus for the state will be going to the rural areas," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.
The North Dakota National Guard has about 425 members stationed in Fargo and Cass County, and plans to send more to Drayton and Valley City as the flood fight continues to spread across the state.
"We are certainly seeing unprecedented flood levels," said Cass County Commission Chair Darrell Vanyo, adding unprecedented flood waters have surrounded the Argusville area.
County Engineer Keith Berndt said water levels appear to have dipped overnight but a lot of water from the Maple and Sheyenne has yet to reach eastern Cass.
"We realize the water is going to be around for a long time," Berndt said.
High water forced numerous road closures, including a 31-mile stretch of Interstate 29 north of Fargo, over the weekend.
Sheriff Paul Laney warned motorists to heed barricades and stay off closed roads.
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said this year's flood fight reinforces the need for permanent flood protection in the form of a North Dakota diversion.
Walaker said he previously favored a Minnesota diversion, but floodwaters from smaller rivers like the Rush River west of Harwood highlight how a North Dakota diversion would help relieve overland flooding in Cass and prevent massive road closures.
The mayor said if a diversion isn't built, it's only a matter of time before the area sees a catastrophic failure to protect the metro area, including North Dakota's largest city.