Flood prep not urgent: Moorhead braced for limited flooding, campus will remain open

Concordia students should not count on being affected by this year’s flood due to decent weather conditions and the city’s infrastructure upgrades. The Red River has created significant troubles for Fargo-Moorhead residents in recent years, with the most serious flood cresting at 40.8 feet in 2009.

“Everyone’s getting prepared, but there’s no sense of urgency, no sense of panic,” said William MacDonald, director of public safety at Concordia. MacDonald acts to create disaster plans for Concordia, including flood planning.

The National Weather Service is projecting that there is a 50 percent chance that the river will reach 38.1 feet and a five to ten percent chance that it will reach 41 feet, according to a brief issued by the City of Moorhead on March 21. Moorhead is currently protected up to 40 feet, according to MacDonald.

The river is expected to have crested by the third week in April.

Mark Krejci, provost and dean of the college, said there will be no disruption of classes or services at Concordia during this year’s flood.

“The city’s infrastructure is so vastly improved,” said Krejci. “Hats off to the city.”

The City of Moorhead and State of Minnesota have invested $80 million in long-term flood protection over the last four years. This includes the building of levees, installation of backflow preventers and buyouts of houses along the river.

Weather conditions have also contributed to the expected moderation of this year’s flood, according to Krejci. The record-setting 2009 flood was a result of the enormous amount of snow that melted extremely quickly. This year’s snowfall was only slightly higher than average. Daytime temperatures in the 40s combined with nighttime temperatures below freezing have moderated the melting process.

“Both cities are in such better shape than four years ago,” MacDonald said.

More than 400,000 sandbags are filled and in storage at this point, which satisfies the need for sandbags at a 41 foot crest, according to the brief by the city.

At this point in time, the City of Moorhead has not requested any volunteers. Concordia students will be encouraged but not required to sandbag if the city requests assistance from the colleges, and many K-12 students were dismissed from class in the last couple weeks to assist with the making of sandbags.

The city has focused on facilitating open communication with the Fargo-Moorhead area colleges to make sure that everyone is on the same page about the flood. The city sends weekly updates via email, and a group of administrators and faculty from Concordia meets regularly to ensure that Concordia is prepared for the worst. This group also sits in on city meetings regarding flood preparation.

Both Krejci and MacDonald stressed that while administrators, faculty and staff of the college have played a large role in flood preparation for the college this year, and in the past, student participation has played a vital role in protecting the city.

“It’s students, both in K-12 and higher ed, that saved the city in 2009,” said MacDonald.

Krejci pointed to continued student involvement in the community to show how connected students are to the Fargo-Moorhead area, specifically referencing the total number of hours students spend in community volunteer work, coaching and internships.

“If a need is there, I expect our students will respond,” Krejci said. “I just don’t think there’s a need.”


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