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Fargo Residents Cope With Continued Flood Fears

Residents of Fargo, N.D., are coping with ongoing fears of heavy flooding from the swollen Red River and warnings about inclement weather in the days ahead. Tom Bearden reports from the scene.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Next, how residents in North Dakota are coping with flooding amid nasty weather and the potential for danger in the days ahead. NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden reports from Fargo.

  • TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour Correspondent:

    On Sunday, exhausted Fargo residents gathered to give thanks that they have so far escaped major flooding…

  • PREACHER:

    Give us strength, Jesus, to do what we can and what we must to fight back the water.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    … and to thank the national guardsmen who came to help.

    But even as church services were ending, volunteers were called back to the Fargodome to fill still more sandbags, adding to the total of some 3 million filled in the last 10 days.

    It's been bitterly cold, so cold that sandbags have to be bashed around to break up the frozen dirt inside before they can be laid on the wall. Even though the dikes have kept most of the city relatively dry, the swollen Red River still managed to cause damage.

    A permanent floodwall at the Oak Grove Lutheran School was undercut, and several campus buildings were inundated. The river, which divides the towns of Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, easily broke a 112-year-old record-high level before it began to subside on Saturday.

    The river never did reach the 43-foot level that many feared would lead to a catastrophe. It's down about a foot-and-a-half since the crest. Even so, it's still three feet above flood stage.

    Governor John Hoeven told us the river will likely stay well above flood stage for perhaps a week, putting enormous stress on the sandbag dikes.

    GOV. JOHN HOEVEN (R), North Dakota: This could be five, six days at these very high levels and then slowly go down. So it's about monitoring, maintaining that dike and the protection, but also supporting our people. You know, if we have an area where we get water, moving people out, making sure we're prepared for all those kinds of contingencies, as well.

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