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Fargo in cleanup mode as Red River crest moves downstream


April 14, 1997
Web posted at: 2:05 p.m. EDT (0605 GMT)

(CNN) -- The flooded Red River was past its high-water mark at Fargo, North Dakota, and nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, Monday, as Fargo moved into a post-flood cleanup mode. Although the river level is falling at a snail's pace, Fargo's operations manager, Dennis Walaker, was optimistic that the worst was over for North Dakota's largest city.

He said the Red River upstream has dropped as much as 3 1/2 feet, meaning that levels in Fargo could begin falling faster in the next few days.

The Red's crest is expected to be 30 miles downstream of Fargo, where the Wild Rice and Red rivers meet, either Monday or Tuesday.

National Guard troops, volunteers and city workers were continuing to patrol permanent and makeshift levees around the clock. Walaker predicted it would be another five to seven days before the level of vigilance can be relaxed.


Nonetheless, he said, there was some sense of relief. When he took his family out to dinner Saturday night, he said, the owner of the restaurant "said there were a lot of people out relieving their tensions." Walaker said.

The river, which forms the North Dakota-Minnesota border as it flows north to the Hudson Bay watershed, crested more than 20 feet over flood stage on Saturday at Fargo.

Flood-fighting efforts were also continuing at Grand Forks, north of Fargo on the Canadian border. Officials there have said they believe the immediate city is safe.

But farm fields in the area were slowly becoming lakes as the Red River and its tributaries spilled gradually out of their shallow banks and across the flat, tabletop landscape.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi River crested Sunday at St. Paul with no major problems. But a flood warning is still posted southward from Lake City into Iowa, and the area may see some light snow Monday night.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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