Fargo Residents Race Against Rising Water

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North Dakota's Red River near Fargo rose to a 112-year high early Friday, breaching a dike south of downtown Fargo and forcing authorities to order the evacuations of about 150 homes.

The river had risen to 40.32 feet early Friday - more than 22 feet above flood stage and inches more than the previous high water mark of 40.1 feet set April 7, 1897. It was expected to crest as high as 43 feet on Saturday.

Operation Blessing International's U.S. Disaster Relief Team and National Reserve Staff has been activated and is on standby by for deployment to the region.  Today the team is finishing their equipment preparations and is waiting for the Red River to crest.

"We have alerted our volunteer base and are asking anyone who wants to volunteer to contact OB's Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@ob.org or by calling 757.226.3407," OB's Chris Williams told CBN News.

"People can also visit our Web site more details," Williams explained.  "We are asking for people who would like to help to contact us as soon as possible, so when the conditions are safe, we have volunteer teams ready to go."

Williams said that all volunteers must first register before they will be able to volunteer to work with the OB team in North Dakota.

Praying For A Miracle

Meanwhile, Fargo residents are racing to save their homes from devastating flood waters.

The urgency increased after bad news that the Red River may now crest several feet higher than first expected.  Residents are working around the clock and praying for a miracle.

Some dikes along the red river have already begun leaking, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing residents to evacuate.

Boats are patrolling streets that are now icy canals looking for residents who may be trapped inside their homes. The Coast Guard has air-lifted at least 16 people.

"The water is coming up to the dikes fairly rapidly," said Nate Medhus, one of the many volunteers filling sandbags. "The crest is supposed to be in about 48 hours, so we are running out of time quickly."

Battle Against The Elements, Nature

Thousands of volunteers are working around the clock, battling sub-zero conditions, to fill millions of sandbags.

"They are in need of students and anyone else who can work," said Karla Underdahl, a college student. "(That's why) we're here working."

But as they work to raise the barriers between the icy water and people's homes, frigid temperatures threaten to keep the sandbags from sealing tightly.

Forecasters predict the Red River will crest at 43-feet above its normal level this weekend.

"We are in unchartered territory," explained Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker. "No one has ever seen the river at this level in the city of Fargo since the beginning of history."

Dynamite Used To Break Up Ice Jams

Meanwhile, success in the North Dakota capital city of Bismarck where officials used dynamite to break up ice jams allowing the swollen Missouri River to drop more than two feet.

But back in Fargo, volunteers continue to work and to hope.

"I hope the diskes hold," said volunteer Donna Decker. "I just hope it works."

It is a common prayer as residents battle to save their community.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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