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Fargo students help prepare for flood

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 8:15 p.m.

FARGO, N.D. — Hundreds of high school students pitched in on Friday to place 100,000 sandbags around Fargo and help protect homes against Red River flooding.

The familiar sandbag party that kicked off what city officials call “tuck it in weekend” began in 2009 when residents fought the first of three straight major floods.

The students sandbagged 134 homes throughout the city and headed back to school after lunch was served by grateful residents such as Glenda Bro. About 40 students, mostly from Fargo North, laughed and sang as they tossed sandbags outside the home where Bro and her husband, a Fargo physician, have lived for 32 years.

Bro said it was a relief to have the sandbagging help, which she called “organized and calm.” The singing helped. “That's kind of contagious,” Bro said. “Fear is contagious, and so is a happy spirit.”

The city has reason to be optimistic.

The latest forecast calls for the Red River to reach a water level between 37 and 39 feet, down a foot from the previous crest range. Although the river begins to spill its banks at 18 feet, few structures are threatened until the water level goes above 38 feet, thanks primarily to increased flood protection efforts in recent years.

“The bottom line is we're in excellent shape to meet the crisis of 2013,” said Dennis Walaker, Fargo mayor.

The river measured 21.7 feet at 2 p.m. Friday. Tim Mahoney, Fargo's deputy mayor, said the city would be buttoned up by the end of the weekend, then officials will monitor the river on an hourly basis.

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