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On Monday, April 3, 2023, the West Fargo City Commission approved an official Emergency Declaration, signed by Commission President Bernie Dardis, for the City of West Fargo to provide departments and agencies with the ability to initiate appropriate actions to monitor, manage and recover from the potential impact of a spring flood.
“The Sheyenne River Diversion Flood Control Project provides us with excellent protection from overland flooding in West Fargo. This declaration is a necessary step taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the City has access to funding and resources to handle a potential spring flood,” said Commission President Dardis. “Residents should be reassured that this act is one of many strategies the City utilizes to minimize any possible risk or impact of 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 any necessary resources for county, state and federal agencies.
Spring flood preparations
In the City of West Fargo, officials closely monitor conditions of the Sheyenne River to determine flood risk. The City coordinates with Southeast Cass Water Resource District to manage the Sheyenne River Diversion and both are preparing for normal spring operations this year.
According to City of West Fargo’s Public Works Director Matt Andvik, 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 include clearing storm drains, ensuring diversion gates are operational, 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. These projects have successfully protected West Fargo through historic floods, such as the events that took place in 1997 and 2009. The City of West Fargo and Southeast Cass Water Resource District continuously monitor and evaluate 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.
The Sheyenne River Diversion still allows water to flow through the river south of I-94, but completely channels water around the city north of I-94. The condition of the riverbanks south of I-94 are critical to contain the flow of the river and require extensive monitoring during the spring melt.
Request for citizens
When it comes to spring flooding, there are actions citizens can take to help minimize risk.
Throughout the rest of the winter and into spring, residents should keep storm drains clear on the street and in yards. This ensures water is flowing into the system at an even pace, as a large influx of water can cause backups.
Property owners are also encouraged to divert all sump pumps to discharge outside as early as Saturday, April 15, 2023. This assists in managing the flow of water into the system and ensuring it does not 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 do not become over saturated, which could result in damage.
For residents with homes that border the Sheyenne River, it is 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. Any changes to these structures and the river bank could lead to flooding. Additionally, homeowners who have blocked culverts or drains on their property need to remove these devices or contact the City of West Fargo to report them.
To report any changes to river banks, berms or dikes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. In emergency cases of riverbank failure or extreme sloughing, residents should call Red River Regional Dispatch Center’s non-emergency line at 701-451-7660.
“As a final request, I’d like to encourage all of the residents of West Fargo to contribute to the sandbagging efforts that could occur in our neighboring communities,” said Commission President Dardis. “Working together we can help the entire metro fight any potential floods.”