City of Fargo approves contracts for emergency flood protection

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Some of the final contracts are in place for emergency flood protection in the City of Fargo. The city commission held a special meeting on Tuesday, April 11, to approve local contractors to build clay levees, deploy trap bags, run emergency pumps, and haul sandbags.

Dozens of bids were looked at for the projects and generally the lowest proposals are accepted, but City Engineer Nathan Boerboom says the most important thing is that they can get the job done when the city needs protecting.

“How their past performance has been, and their experience with these types of products. Make sure we’re getting contractors that are very able to build these levees in the timely manner that we need,” Boerboom said.

Public Works Director Ben Dow says the city will get emergency pumps in place, and may start using them as early as next week.

“As we enter next week with the 28-foot flood level, we will have to have some axillary pumping capacity. If we get a heavy rainfall or anything of that sort because we’ll be on 100% pumping capacity at that time. We’ll probably have all the gauges shut to the river,” Dow explains.

Commissioners also approved a program where property owners can apply for reimbursement if their yards are damaged by sandbagging. To be eligible for city reimbursement, property owners must first submit to their insurance company; if they get denied or if the premiums would go significantly higher, then they would become eligible for this program. If the insurance company pays for the damages, the city would pay the deductible.

A similar program was used in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and the city engineer says the city paid out less than $50,000 each year. He said the cost to the city is minimal, but it can be a great option to help property owners get their yards restored. The program includes a right of entry form that property owners must sign, allowing the city to place and remove sandbags or emergency flood control structures.

Boerboom also said they have contacted a handful of homeowners who have not yet accepted a flood buyout deal with the city. Commissioner Dave Piepkorn says he believes they are putting those neighborhoods at risk.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time and they’re aware of this. And so to me, I think this is the point where you have to say it’s time for you to go, because you’re jeopardizing neighboring houses and neighboring neighborhoods,” Piepkorn said. “Let’s say that the worst happens and the flood gets very high, those houses have got to go and we should be prepared to do that.”

Boerboom says because of the number of home buyouts already complete, they can isolate the remaining homes fairly easily. The city would build clay levees around the existing homes, leaving them on the “wrong” side of the levee.

You can watch the full Special Fargo City Commission meeting held on Tuesday, April 11 HERE.