Dalrymple to FEMA: Add Grand Forks County to disaster declaration
As Grand Forks County crews were delivering 75,000 empty sandbags to residents living in what is commonly known as the Burke Addition, just south of Grand Forks today, Gov. Jack Dalrymple was asking FEMA Region 8 Administrator Robin Finegan to ad...
As Grand Forks County crews were delivering 75,000 empty sandbags to residents living in what is commonly known as the Burke Addition, just south of Grand Forks today, Gov. Jack Dalrymple was asking FEMA Region 8 Administrator Robin Finegan to add the county to the 2011 presidential disaster declaration.
Dalrymple and Finegan met with local officials this morning before touring the Grand Forks flood protection system, threatened areas outside the city limits and then traveling to Pembina and Neche, N.D.
"We know we're going to be looking at a very significant crest up here by this weekend," the governor said. "It's going to be a test."
The National Weather Service on Monday raised its potential Red River crest to 52 feet at Grand Forks between Thursday and Saturday.
While the crest this past weekend in Fargo-Moorhead fell below the forecast, the weather service has not pulled back on its forecast for Grand Forks.
That's because areas of Minnesota that drain into the Red Lake River and others flow into the Red River received substantially more rain last weekend than areas in North Dakota.
So, the Red Lake, which appeared to be receiving its second crest at about 20.5 feet today, likely will send its peak flows to East Grand Forks at about the same time the Red is rising above 50 feet in the city, according to Greg Gust, warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service in Grand Forks.
The crest and the Kennedy Bridge
A 52-foot crest would be the second highest on record in Grand Forks. In 1997, the river reached 54.34 feet. Since then, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks have installed permanent flood protection to 60 feet in the cities.
Grand Forks City Engineer Al Grasser said work was being done this week on the Minnesota side of the Kennedy Bridge on Gateway Drive, to keep it open throughout the flood fight.
"We think we'll be able to handle 52 feet," he said.
However, areas just outside the city remain vulnerable.
Besides the Kennedy Bridge, local and area residents have river-crossing access at the new Thompson Bridge, south of Grand Forks, which opened last fall. That bridge was built to withstand floods higher than the 1997 record event.
To the north, the closest Red River bridge still open is another new one that opened this year along N.D. Highway 66 at Drayton, N.D.
At a meeting earlier today, the Grand Forks County Commission approved spending up to $100,000 from its emergency fund for the spring flood fight.
City/county Emergency Manager Jim Campbell said residents of the Country View Neighborhood, which often is referred to as the Burke Addition, and Grand Forks Township have requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers build a temporary clay dike on the south and west side of the subdivision.
Sheriff Bob Rost said his entire department switched to 12-hour shifts this week. He also said the department will have a new airboat on standby throughout the flood fight to respond to any water emergencies.
"At 52 feet, we have people living out in the county who are going to say 'I've had enough. I want to come out.' So, we anticipate using the airboat and the U.S. Coast Guard to rescue these people."
He said deputies have been instructed to arrest sightseers who drive past flood barricades or enter other restricted areas.
"We don't have time to deal with sightseers," the sheriff said.
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