As the snow melts, the water levels rise
North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani has personally reached out to the student body, requesting all hands on deck for sandbagging in hopes to avoid what seems like the inevitable -— a bad flood season.
Jessica Jensen, department head of emergency management, compared Fargo’s current flooding situation to the 2009 flood that warranted school shutdowns.
“This flood is far less concerning than the 2009 flood,” Jensen said. “The river came up, and water crossed land out in the county really fast in 2009 because the melt was really fast.”
She also said that since 2009, Fargo has invested in “earthen levees,” which include: raised dikes, a modified El Zagal Golf Course to hold more water, added permanent flood walls and replaced pump stations so that they can pump more water, faster.
“Communication with the public should be clear, consistent and repeated. It should also be tied to actions people ought to take with respect to the potential crisis.”Jessica Jensen, department head of emergency management
With the measures taken since the last big flood, there is already a positive difference in how Fargo is handling the large amounts of water.
Along with the measures above, Fargo has recruited its citizens to work diligently with sandbagging. In a recent news release by the city of Fargo, there is going to be a 39-foot barrier thanks to all of the volunteer turnout.
Jensen said there will be even more protection with a 41-foot plan: “Arrangements are made to account for 2-feet of what they call ‘free board.’ The reason it is so realistic is because most of the structural measures put in place by the city between 2009 and now already have the city protected to that level. Sandbags in strategic locations will plug any existing gaps.”
Community outreach is critical at all times, especially when there is a possibility of crisis. “Communication with the public should be clear, consistent and repeated. It should also be tied to actions people ought to take with respect to the potential crisis,” Jensen said.
Samantha Montano, a professor at NDSU, along with many others were part of this critical community outreach — sandbagging.
Montano went out to volunteer on Friday afternoon for around two hours. From what she observed, there was a good turnout of students from NDSU and even the Fargo mayor himself was there.
“Volunteers were doing a number of different tasks. There were people actually filling the sandbags, tying them off and stacking them,” Montano said. “Other volunteers were replenishing supplies as needed and helping to coordinate the management of all the volunteers. The Salvation Army and American Red Cross also had a presence handing out refreshments.”
Though sandbagging is helpful, Jensen said there are activities the Fargo-Cass residents are unaware of that are contributing to the success of preventative measures. “City officials are carefully monitoring water levels and the weather,” Jensen said. “They are also brushing off emergency operations plans and familiarizing themselves with their respective roles were a disaster to occur here.”
Nonprofits are also meeting to assess the needs of the city and figure out how to move forward in solving the needs.
It is always important to be prepared, and Fargo has been working hard in preparations. Jensen said there are even more ways that citizens can prepare themselves. “Anyone who does not have flood insurance should purchase it for their property and contents,” Jensen advised. “People can also make sure that their sump pumps are working and that any property stored in their basements is raised off the ground and/or stored in water-resistant (plastic) bins.”
Community outreach is critical, and so is self-preparation. The city of Fargo, as well as the citizens of Fargo, are working hard to prevent the impact a flood could have.