Today, City of West Fargo Commission President Bernie Dardis signed an official Emergency Declaration for the City of West Fargo to provide departments and agencies the ability to initiate appropriate actions to manage and recover from the potential impact of spring flooding. The City of Fargo and Cass County also signed similar declarations.
“This is a necessary step to ensure the city has access to funding and resources to deal with spring flooding,” said Commission President Dardis. “Our residents should be reassured that this act is one of many strategies the City is utilizing to minimize any possible risk or impact of flooding. The Sheyenne River Diversion Flood Control Project also provides us with good protection from overland flooding.”
Issuing an emergency declaration allows local governments to manage resources and funding under conditions that are not normally budgeted or anticipated. It is also the first step in preparing to request resources for county, state and federal agencies that may be necessary. The West Fargo City Commission is expected to vote to confirm the emergency declaration during the regular March 2 city commission meeting.
Spring flood preparations
According to City of West Fargo City Engineer Dustin Scott, over the next month crews will prepare the city’s infrastructure to ensure water is properly channeled throughout the system during the spring melt. These actions will include clearing storm drains, ensuring diversion gates are operational, installing sonic gauges to monitor river flows, servicing and testing equipment like pumps and generators, and securing additional equipment and supplies in case sandbags and emergency structures are needed.
West Fargo is protected by the Sheyenne River Diversion Flood Control Projects that were put in place in 1992 and they have successfully protected West Fargo through historic floods, such as the events in 1997 and 2009. The City of West Fargo and Southeast Cass Water Resource District continuously monitors and evaluates the condition of the flood control system during the spring melt, including the diversion, river banks and levees, and prepare multiple contingencies to respond to any risks.
While the diversion completely channels water around the city north of I-94, water is still allowed to flow through the Sheyenne River south of I-94. The condition of these riverbanks are critical to contain the flows of the river and require extensive monitoring during the spring melt.
Request for citizens
When it comes to spring flooding there are a few actions citizens can take to help minimize the risk.
Throughout the rest of the winter and into spring, residents should consistently keep storm drains clear on the street and any drains located in yards. This ensures water is flowing into the system at an even pace. Otherwise, a large influx of water can cause backups throughout the system.
Property owners are also required to ensure all sump pumps are discharging outside by Monday, April 1. This also assists in managing the flow of water into the system and ensuring it doesn’t get overwhelmed, which can lead to water and sewage backups in basements. Residents can also push snow away from foundations to ensure foundations and basements don’t become over saturated, which could result in damage.
For residents with homes that border the Sheyenne River, it is also imperative to notify the City of West Fargo of any changes that have been made to the river bank. Berms and dikes have been placed on many of these properties to protect against flooding but any changes to these and the river bank could lead to flooding. Additionally, homeowners who have blocked culverts or drains on their property need to remove the devices or contact the City of West Fargo to report them.
To report any changes to river banks, berms or dikes, please contact the Public Works Department at (701) 433-5400 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“As a final request, I’d like to encourage all of the residents of West Fargo to contribute to the sandbagging efforts that will occur in our neighboring communities,” said Dardis. “Working together we can help the entire metro fight any potential floods.”
To learn about sandbagging volunteer opportunities, call FirstLink at 701-476-4000.