Friday, March 27, 2009

Red River rising into history

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The Red River of the North rose to a level never seen in recorded history this morning, fueling fears that a catastrophic failure of flood defenses could occur. The river's level stood at 40.44 feet at 7:15 a.m., surpassing the previous record of 40.1 feet reached in 1897, and kept rising to a crest that could reach 43 feet by Saturday afternoon.

Even as residents of Fargo and its sister city of Moorhead, Minn., fled their homes overnight, desperate volunteers continued to pile sandbags on top of sodden levees. The extent of evacuations among the cities' 125,000 residents wasn't immediately clear this morning.

But Moorhead officials dramatically broadened their evacuation plan this morning, recommending the evacuation of all residents living in the city's core. The new evacuation covers roughly a 10-block wide area of the city north of Interstate 94. In announcing it, the city reported that storm sewers are starting to back up.

Shortly after the evacuation was announced, a sign hung on one empty house declared, "WE'RE GONE." Nearby, near the river's edge, another resident continued operating pumps in a desperate attempt to keep his house dry….

Volunteers in the Fargodome fill sandbags in the effort to build dikes and levies against the rising Red River, shot by Adam Quartarolo, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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