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No drama as Red River crests at Fargo-Moorhead

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The Red River reaches the flood wall along Second Street North in downtown Fargo on Monday, April 8, 2018. David Samson / Forum News Service2 / 3
Vehicles navigate the floodwaters north of West Fargo along Cass County 17 at the intersection Cass County 20 on Monday, April 8, 2019. David Samson / Forum News Service3 / 3

FARGO -- The Red River at Fargo-Moorhead on Monday, April 8, reached a level only seen seven times in more than 100 years of recorded history, but there was little drama to go along with the high water.

As of late afternoon Monday, the National Weather Service had received a reading from the U.S. Geological Survey of 35.03 feet for the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead.

According to the USGS, flood levels have exceeded 35 feet in Fargo only seven times since gauge monitoring started in 1902, with those years being: 1969; 1989; 1997; 2001; 2009; 2010; and 2011.

At a special flood meeting Monday morning, Fargo officials reported that emergency measures — mainly sandbag dikes and one clay levee — had been required in only five places and that no contingency plans will likely be needed as things appeared quiet on the flood front.

The Sheyenne River at Harwood, N.D., is cresting around 91.54 feet, a level expected to continue for a few days. The Sheyenne flows into the Red near Harwood and the tributary typically starts to recede once the Red drops below 33 feet, officials said, Monday, April 8.

The Red River is expected to drop to 30 feet in a week, but the widespread overland flooding across Cass County, especially near Harwood, could last many more weeks.

A lost bet

In the West Fargo area, Brad Forness’s house should remain dry this flood cycle, but he’s going to get wet very soon, when he settles a bet over flooding that he lost to his neighbors.

Forness was positive the major overland flooding in Cass County would not cross County Road 17. His neighbors and friends felt differently and bet Forness flooding would breach the road, which it did at the intersection of County Road 20.

“I said I’d go skinny dipping (in the floodwater) if it got over County Road 17,” Forness said. “Guess I’m going in.”

The veteran flood fighter, who now lives with his family in the same house his father moved to the property northwest of West Fargo in 1968, has watched water creep up to his home, barns and shops many times over the years.

“This is nothing we’re not used to,” Forness said.

To the south in Kindred, N.D., officials were concerned about the Sheyenne rising above forecasted levels. The river is expected to crest at 21.5 feet and already by Monday it was just 1 foot behind at 20.5 feet. A combination of recent warm temperatures increased snowmelt and runoff.

Cass County Deputy Keegan Murphy said Monday afternoon that the crest would happen over the next 24 hours.

Deputy Steve Sprecher described the flooding in Kindred as "manageable."

"A lot of the areas that had water in the past are dry," he said.

Forum News Service

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