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North Central U.S. At Risk for Spring Floods


The country’s flood experts predict a large part of the United States is at risk for major flooding this spring as warmer weather melts the snowpack in those areas. One of those regions is Fargo, North Dakota, where the American Red Cross is feeding volunteers who have been working to fill three million sandbags in preparation for the thaw.

Red Cross workers are providing water, snacks, sandwiches and hot meals to volunteer sandbaggers at Fargo’s Sand Bag Central. According to Marijo Peterson, emergency services director for the Minn-Kota Chapter in Fargo, the Red Cross is partnering with the Salvation Army to feed the sandbag volunteers. One of six feeding sites is open, with more expected to open next week.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports the ground in much of the north central part of the country is frozen, water-saturated and snow-covered. The snowpack may grow and streams and rivers could swell in March and April. In North Dakota, the National Weather Service reports the amount of water in the area’s snowpack is among the highest ever estimated in the last sixty years. Another area at risk is land along the Mississippi River from St. Paul, Minnesota south to St. Louis.

If someone lives in an area which may face flooding this spring, the Red Cross has steps you can take to be prepared:

  • Determine whether your community is at risk for flooding.
  • Listen to radio and television stations and NOAA Weather Radio for flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
  • Because standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.