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Preparation continues at 'sandbag central' in Fargo

More than 100 volunteers showed up at "sandbag central," the Fargo utilities building at 2301 8th Ave. N., to begin sandbagging operations this morning.

UPDATED 11:25 a.m.

FARGO - Work started overnight in downtown Fargo to protect the city from rising floodwaters while sandbagging efforts also began.

A massive volunteer effort to fill and stack more than 1 million sandbags before March 28 got under way this morning at "sandbag central," the city of Fargo's utilities building at 2301 8th Ave. N.

Nearly 100 volunteers, many of them members of the Fargo South baseball team, showed up before 8:30 a.m. at the utilities building to help Fargo prepare for a Red River crest that could exceed the flood level of 1997.

Fargo South baseball coach Donn Bryant said his team was missing practice to help fill sandbags this morning.

"This is our practice," he said.

Sandbag-filling operations will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Fargo utilities building. They resume at 8 a.m. Saturday, and will go around the clock as the city aims to fill 1.3 million to 1.5 million sandbags, according to Mayor Dennis Walaker.

The city brought in two octopus-type sandbag-filling machines for $38,000 apiece. They arrived Thursday night and were ready by the time volunteers started arriving at the utilities building this morning.

City Administrator Pat Zavoral says Fargo will need 500 volunteers by noon today at "sandbag central."

With enough volunteers, the city should be able to fill about 300,000 sandbags a day, Walaker said.

Volunteers are asked to call FirstLink at (701) 476-4000. Because of limited parking around sandbag central, buses will shuttle volunteers to and from the Fargodome parking lot every half-hour.

Moorhead is also gearing up for the flood battle, announcing Thursday that it will provide residents with free sand and sandbags.

Moorhead plans to set up 11 sandbag stations. Stations expected to be up and running this afternoon are at Rivershore Drive North and Miller Drive, 2600 Fairway Drive N., Ninth Street North and Ninth Avenue, Elm Street South and Sixth Avenue, River Drive South and 12th Avenue, River Drive South and 14th Avenue, Rivershore Drive South and Brookdale Road, Rivershore drive South and 32nd Avenue, Fifth Street South and 37th Avenue, and Rivershore Drive South and 37th Avenue.

The sites will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition, a volunteer center will operate Saturday at Nemzek Hall on the campus of Minneseota State University Moorhead.