Saturday, March 28, 2009

US prepared to shelter 30,000 flood victims

Raw Story, via Agence France-Presse: The US government is bracing itself to care for up to 30,000 people fleeing record flooding in the country's northern plains, a top official said Friday. US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said amid "historically unprecedented" flooding in the Red River valley between the states of Minnesota and North Dakota, the federal government had readied itself to house and feed 30,000 people for up to a week.

Hospitals and scores of homes were evacuated Friday as snow-melts swelled the Red River, breaching at least one levee and threatening miles of sandbag dikes set up by volunteers. An estimated 3,500 people have been evacuated so far from the area so far.

But many fear the worst is yet to come, with river levels expected to rise to a 112-year record of 42 feet (13 meters) by 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Saturday. "The river has not even crested yet," said Napolitano. "In the worst case scenario we could be dealing with 80,000 to 100,000 people evacuated," she told reporters. But Napolitano said the vast majority of potential evacuees -- around 77 percent -- would likely stay with family or friends, leaving the government to care for the rest….

The US Army Corps of Engineers shows Grand Forks, North Dakota, during the 1997 flood. The 2009 flood in Fargo is worse.

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