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Game wardens helped patrol areas where the Red River flooded in 1997. North Dakota Game and Fish Department photo

Like Fargo, Cass County needs volunteers to fill sandbags

FARGO — Cass County officials are worried that the county’s sandbag-filling operation will be overshadowed by Fargo’s Sandbag Central.

Cass County is gearing up its flood-fighting preparations and is asking for volunteers to fill 300,000 sandbags starting Wednesday, March 27. Sandbag Central in Fargo, which opens Tuesday, is aiming to make 1 million sandbags.

County officials are hoping for at least 60 volunteers at a time to keep the county’s sandbag-filling “spider” machine operating at full capacity.

“I think if we can get 60 that will keep the whole operation pretty steady,” Jason Benson, Cass County engineer, said at a flood preparation meeting Monday, March 25.

"We need people in every shift to make this goal," said Robert Wilson, Cass County administrator. "This is a big part of this effort."

Cass County’s sandbag-filling operations will run weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from noon until 7 p.m.

The county’s sandbag-filling site, located at the Cass County Highway Department, 1201 Main Ave. W. in West Fargo, is scheduled to remain in operation until April 5.

To volunteer, call the county’s volunteer coordinator, Chip Ammerman, at 701-239-6700. For general flood-related information, call County Administrator Robert Wilson at 701-241-5770. The county also has launched its flood hotline: 701-241-8000.

Construction of several emergency clay levees to protect rural subdivisions near the Red River south of Fargo will begin about April 1, with the goal of having 90 percent of protections in place by April 5.

Officials of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services as well as the North Dakota National Guard were at the meeting and are prepared to offer assistance in the flood fight, with a river crest expected in mid-April.

“We know Cass County knows how to fight a flood, but we want to make sure we’re ready when needed,” said Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard and the state’s director of emergency services.

The Guard has equipment and supplies on hand, including heavy equipment and pumps as well as sandbags, to offer if needed, officials said.

Although other areas of North Dakota will be dealing with spring flooding, “The Red River’s the biggest show in town,” Dohrmann said.

Officials expect widespread overland flooding that will force closure of many rural roads and could isolate some residents.

Sheriff Jesse Jahner said his deputies will be out patrolling and setting up roadblocks to keep traffic away from flooded roads.