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Red River rises again in North Dakota

Two months after Fargo, N.D., worked around the clock on sandbag lines to hold back floodwaters, the Red River is again overflowing, threatening mostly just parks and golf courses.
North Dakota Flooding
Flooding closed down this street in Fargo, N.D., on Monday.Dave Kolpack / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Two months after eastern North Dakota homeowners worked around the clock on sandbag lines to hold back floodwaters, the Red River is again spilling over its banks, this time threatening mostly just parks and golf courses, but no homes.

Heavy rains in the past week have pushed the river within two feet of major flood stage at Fargo. Water has spilled over onto two golf courses, a Frisbee golf course, a campground, and several parks with baseball and softball fields.

"The water is halfway up my backyard again," said Richard Thomas, who lives in a subdivision south of Fargo. "It's not at the point where anybody is worried, but it certainly does refresh everybody's memory from just a few months back."

The flooding has forced the city to shut down some roads and one bridge north of town, said Al Weigel, Fargo's director of operations.

"When it comes to summer floods, it's one of the highest ones we've had in a while, but I don't think a lot of people will even notice," said Weigel. "The river acts a little differently during these rains. Things come quicker and leave quicker. It's a little more manageable."

Roger Gress, director of Fargo parks, said the recent round of high water likely will put the district over $1 million in flood-related damages. He couldn't predict the lost revenue from canceled recreational events.

The river was expected to crest at 27.5 feet on Monday, National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Lukes said. Flood stage is 18 feet.

"It's not a threat to life or property," Lukes said. "But whether you call it minor or moderate, it's all very subjective. It depends on what's happening in your own situation."

Flooding in March and April was pushed by heavy rain, snow and ice. The Red River was above flood stage in Fargo for a record 61 days, ending in May. The city used millions of sandbags and other dikes to survive a record river crest of 40.82 feet, followed by a second crest at 34 feet.

Chuck Summers, a supervisor with the Village Family Service Center in Fargo, said many people are comforted by the city's response to flooding earlier this year.

"I think there's a lot of confidence in local government's ability to manage that right now," he said.