Archived Story

Community prepares for flooding

Published 10:19am Friday, March 18, 2011

The Otter Tail River is likely to flow over its banks in the Fergus Falls area, according to emergency management officials monitoring the situation.

Otter Tail County, the City of Fergus Falls and Otter Tail Power are hosting an informational meeting on flood-related issues at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Otter Tail Power Community Room at 215 South Cascade St. in Fergus Falls.

Representatives from the DNR, Otter Tail Power, the City of Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County will be on hand for the panel discussion that will be moderated by Anne Martens, the city’s public works director.

The DNR will discuss riverflow, Otter Tail Power will address its hydro-election operations and how its dams affect waterflow, the city will discuss preparations for high water and the availability of sandbags for city residents while the county will be on hand to discuss its preparations for the upcoming high-water season.

Fergus Falls generally is not susceptible to flooding, but there are concerns that 2011 might be an exception.

The Otter Tail River is currently near flood stage, which is a concern because the snow melt has basically gotten underway just this week. The reservoirs above Otter Tail Power’s four hydro-electric facilities are already at near capacity, a contrast to most years where there is ample room in those reservoirs to fill with water generated by runoff and riverflow from upstream, Otter Tail Power officials said.

The greatest concern is where the Pelican and Otter Tail rivers converge west of Fergus Falls. Some temporary flooding of I-94 could occur this season, officials said.

As water rises on the Otter Tail River, the Dayton Hollow Dam has the potential to become stressed. The immediate concern is that the river will flow over the top of the reservoir embankment, Otter Tail Power officials said. Otter Tail Power crews are already on hand at Dayton Hollow where they are building up the embankments with clay.

Based on current riverflow projects, there is not only a risk of flooding at Dayton Hollow, but at the Pisgah Dam located by the city’s wasterwater treatment plant. Just like at Dayton Hollow, there is an emergency action plan in place and ready to be implemented if the need arises, officials said.

There are some concerns for flooding at the Diversion Dam, officials said. Some minor flooding is being expected at the Central Dam in downtown Fergus Falls that might force the temporary closing of the Riverwalk and cause some erosion damage, officials said.

As far as residential flooding is concerned, officials believe that some homes that have never experienced flooding before might be at risk this spring because of saturated ground and a high water table. Otter Tail County has purchased 300,000 sandbags that are available to residents.

The City of Fergus Falls has purchased 3,000 sandbags for use by city residents.

Bags can be purchased for 20 cents each at the Otter Tail County Recycling Center. Sand is free for those filling their bags on site. Residents will be asked to show their photo ID and inform the city where the bags will be placed. Sand can be picked up at the Public Works facility on Peck Street during the hours of 8-3 Monday through Friday.

This and more information will be shared at the Tuesday public information meeting.

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