FARGO, N.D. — The crest of the Red River was met Sunday with more shrugs than white knuckles, as flood fears receded and Fargo residents walked their dogs and went to church instead of sandbagging and fleeing to higher ground.

City officials said they were relieved the bloated river running along the border of North Dakota and Minnesota didn’t cause major damage leading up to its crest.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker noted that while most floods have at least “one day of chaos” that didn’t happen this year. But he cautioned against celebrating too soon.

“We need at least another week here before we get it to the level we wanted it to be. There’s still a lot of water down south,” Walaker told The Associated Press.

The National Weather Service said the Red River crested Sunday afternoon just under 37 feet, or 19 feet over flood stage, and was now on its way down. The region has been hoping for mostly dry weather to speed the river’s fall by week’s end. The forecast was cooperating, with only a small chance of rain in sight over the next few days.

“We’re bobbling downward,” weather service spokesman Greg Gust said. He said the river appeared to be starting a “very slow decline through the remainder of the day.”

That was good news to residents of North Dakota’s largest city, who worried that the Red could stay at its crest for several days, straining temporary levees and sandbag dikes.

Fargo residents began cleaning up the debris in low-lying neighborhoods where more than a million sandbags held back waters.

Highway crews also were out measuring the clay that had been used to build levees so they could start preparing for how to remove the temporary barriers later this week.

The calm mood was in stark contrast to last year, when floods along the north-flowing Red River sparked a last-minute frenzy of sandbagging that brought life to a halt.

This year, thousands of volunteers filled and placed sandbags and the Army Corps of Engineers built dozens of clay dikes.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.