The city of Grand Forks could declare a flood emergency early next week, according to City Engineer Al Grasser.
“That’s a trigger point that allows us to start accessing and triggering FEMA and state resources and potential reimbursements,” Grasser told the City Council on Monday. FEMA refers to the Federal Emergency Management Association, members of which were present at a Friday “kickoff meeting” for city leaders.
As of Friday, the National Weather Service reported Grand Forks has a 95 percent chance of moderate flooding, with the river cresting around 45.8 feet.
Grasser predicted the flood will first impact low points along the Greenway, where things get wet at about 34 or 35 feet.
“One of the first pump stations we activate is down in the Lincoln area,” Grasser said, referring to Lincoln Drive Park along the Greenway. “That’s at about 36 feet.”
The city’s flood protection system consists of a series of pumps, levees and floodwalls along the Red River. There’s what Grasser called a “tieback” on the south end, to keep the river from sneaking up behind the city when things start to flood, and a diversion channel to move water that has overflown into the English Coulee back to the Red River.
Public works has already begun to prepare the flood protection system by removing ice from the flood stations.
Eventually, the city will begin closing recreational areas and streets using stop logs, or stacks of large aluminum beams.
“One of the first stop logs we put in is (at) Riverside, at about 42.5 feet,” Grasser said, referring to a north Grand Forks area. The city will likely close the Point and Sorlie bridges next, once crests begin to reach about 45.5 feet, Grasser said.
Should crests reach 52 feet, the city will close Kennedy Bridge.