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Franken impressed with Moorhead-area flood-fighting efforts

MOORHEAD -- Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., visited here Saturday to get an update on Moorhead and Clay County flood-fighting efforts. Franken toured areas considered flood hot spots after meeting separately with county and city leaders at the Clay Cou...

Kevin Campbell, Al Franken and Bruce Albright
Clay County Commissioner Kevin Campbell (left) and Buffalo-Red River Watershed District Administrator Bruce Albright (right) explain the flood efforts to Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., on 70th Avenue N. on April, 20, 2013. Charly Haley / The Forum.

MOORHEAD -- Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., visited here Saturday to get an update on Moorhead and Clay County flood-fighting efforts.

Franken toured areas considered flood hot spots after meeting separately with county and city leaders at the Clay County Courthouse and Moorhead City Hall.

Weather service forecasters on Wednesday predicted a crest on the Red River of between 38 and 41 feet. The chance for a record crest in Fargo-Moorhead is 40 percent, up from a 15 percent chance predicted in late March in what likely will be the latest spring flood on record.

Franken said he is impressed with how well-prepared city and county leaders are to fight flooding.

"We sort of discussed with the city really how down to a science it's now gotten in terms of the planning," he said.

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"The only good thing about this happening every year is that you get very good at it. They're very good at this," Franken said.

The senator said this year's flood-fighting effort seemed "more sophisticated," with the LiDAR (light detecting and ranging) technology that uses lasers to map elevation every 6 inches. In 2009, cooperating agencies finished mapping all 53,000 square miles of the Red River Basin in the U.S. with LiDAR.

Franken said the strong effort by Moorhead and Clay County helps him fight for federal funding.

He said a water resources development bill is on the U.S. Senate docket, and hopes the bill will be passed in the Senate in May.

Funding from the bill would not be specific to the Red River Valley, but could help with water projects throughout Minnesota, including the proposed Fargo-Moorhead diversion here, Franken said.

"When we're talking about the (water resources) bill, we're really talking about the diversion," he said. "That would gain authorization. It's part of the process of this going forward."

He noted that if the bill passes in the Senate, it would still need to go through the House and be appropriated by the Senate and House.

"The corps (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) has done its planning on it (the diversion), but these things tend to have fixes, changes, to accommodate the continuing process of people in the communities up and down the basin, making sure that their interests are kept in mind," Franken said.

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Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland was pleased with Franken's visit.

"I think it's wonderful that we have the senator come here," he said. "We can show off what we've done. As we look forward, it's good for him to understand that the diversion is still necessary."

Franken complimented everyone in the area.

"I'm very impressed with the teamwork here," he said. "Certainly in Clay and Moorhead, but just teamwork of the whole basin, and how everyone has been working together on this for a long time. They're really pros on this."

Related Topics: CLAY COUNTYMOORHEAD
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