The city of Fargo, North Dakota, will wake to an anxious day today, as it waits to see if the levees frantically built to hold back the floodwaters of the rising Red River can withstand the height of the surge, expected this afternoon. Yesterday, the defences were at 40.81ft, more than 22ft above flood stage, and higher than the previous record of 40.1ft, set in 1897. But they can stand nothing more than 43ft, and the predicted peak will be perilously close to, or even beyond, that.
Volunteers and 1,700 National Guardsmen are patrolling the frozen dykes, looking for any signs of cracks. These 17 miles of impromptu walls are all that protect the city of 100,000 people, and Moorhead, its smaller neighbour of 30,000 souls across a river that divides, and may yet engulf, them both. Thousands have been evacuated or have got out while the going is still dry. Those who remain can only wait and hope that the millions of sandbags now guarding their homes will hold. By nightfall they will know.Reuse content