Image: Red River
All along its course, including this stretch in Grand Forks, N.D., on Wednesday, the Red River is no longer a flood danger.
updated 5/20/2009 3:36:23 PM ET 2009-05-20T19:36:23

It's been a long time dropping.

The Red River, which rose above its 18-foot flood stage in Fargo on March 20, finally dropped to 17.9 feet on Wednesday after 61 days, the National Weather Service said.

That's a record time for flood stage in the city, the weather service said. It was expected to fall slowly to 17.5 feet over the next week.

"It's long time, but we made it through to a happy ending," hydrologist Mike Lukes said.

Residents of Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn., scrambled to save their homes, using millions of sandbags to fight off two crests on the Red River — the first at a record 40.82 feet  and the second at 34 feet.

Flooding caused by heavy rain and snow led to a statewide disaster in March and April, closing roads across North Dakota and forcing some residents out of their homes. The flooding was linked to the deaths of at least three people and thousands of farm and ranch animals.

Forty-one North Dakota counties and three reservations are covered under a presidential disaster declaration.

The weather service said the 61-day flood in Fargo was seven days longer than the number of days the Red was above flood stage in the city in 2006.

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