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Other News: N.D. Braces for Record Floodwaters

March 27, 2009 at 6:20 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news today, it was a race against the clock, as Fargo, N.D., braced for a potentially devastating flood. Kwame Holman narrates our report.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Red River in Fargo began the day at its highest level since 1897. It passed the 40-foot mark, more than 22 feet above flood stage. And the river could make more history tomorrow, when it’s expected to crest at 43 feet.

That equals the height of the main dike, in the city of 92,000 people. But the mayor warned there’s no time left to build it any higher.

DENNIS WALAKER, mayor, Fargo, N.D.: If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down swinging. And what I mean by that is we’re going to continue to provide all the possible support that we can.

KWAME HOLMAN: Instead, officials ordered 800 more National Guard troops to help patrol levees on the lookout for any breaches. That’s on top of 900 Guard members already in place.

Meanwhile, an army of volunteers worked around the clock in sub-freezing temperatures to fill and pile sandbags. They hoped to reinforce barrier walls to protect neighborhoods from a deluge.

JANEEN KOBRINSKY, Fargo resident: Well, I know that they’re not going to raise the primary dike any more. And it’s scary. A lot of the neighbors have evacuated already. There is a voluntary evacuation going on. You know, if you go in the backyards, the pumps are trying to keep up with it.

KWAME HOLMAN: Some 200 patients were evacuated from Fargo’s largest hospital overnight.

EMERGENCY WORKER: They told us they could take four wheelchairs, but they only have three.

KWAME HOLMAN: And residents from at least four local nursing homes also were relocated to safer ground.

Across the river, evacuations affecting nearly 2,300 households were ordered in Moorhead, Minnesota. On Thursday, the federal government declared a disaster in seven Minnesota counties. The entire state of North Dakota already was included.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street ended the week on a down note, as investors locked in profits from this week’s rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 148 points to close at 7,776. The Nasdaq fell more than 41 points to close at 1,545. Still, for the week, the Dow gained nearly 7 percent; the Nasdaq rose 6 percent.

Japan today ordered its military to deploy missile interceptors. They’re to be ready for a North Korean rocket launch expected next week. Warships and missile interceptors were moved into place along Japan’s northern coast. North Korea has cautioned debris could fall in that vicinity.

North Korea has insisted it will launch a satellite. The U.S. and other nations say it is a long-range missile test.

Longtime NBC newscaster Irving R. Levine died today in Washington. He had prostate cancer. Levine started at the network covering the Korean War in 1950. He stayed for 45 years, reporting all over the world. In 1971, he became the full-time economics correspondent, nearly always seen wearing his trademark bow tie. Irving R. Levine was 86 years old.