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Red River expected to reach major flood stage

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Red River expected to reach major flood stage

(CNN) -- The Red River at Fargo, North Dakota, was expected to reach major flood stage Wednesday as the National Guard and a small army of volunteers filled sandbags to keep the waters at bay.
"Everybody is just focused on battling it once again, and they're doing it with smiles on their faces," said Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson of the North Dakota National Guard. The river rose to a record 40.8 feet at Fargo in 2009.

"(It's) very stressful for a lot of people, especially after seeing how much damage and how long the flood fight went on last year," Willson said. About 300 people were helping on the sandbag lines as the community raced to fill 1 million of them.

The Red River stood at 29.6 feet early Wednesday, more than 11 feet above flood stage. Twelve feet above flood level is considered major flood stage at that point on the river. Floodwaters are forecast to peak at 38 feet this weekend.

Last week, warm weather and rain melted snow south of Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, causing the Red River to swell. Upstream, snow and ice have yet to melt, pushing water back toward the two cities.

Meanwhile, along the Eastern Seaboard, utility crews made steady progress restoring electricity after a powerful nor'easter whipped the region over the weekend.

About 125,000 customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut remained without power early Wednesday.

"We know how difficult this is for our customers, and we appreciate their patience," said John Miksad of Con Edison. "With each reconnection, we focus on restoring the greatest numbers of customers possible."

The outages were due mostly to power lines downed by Saturday's hurricane-force winds, which knocked over trees and utility poles. At least seven deaths were attributed to the storm, five caused by falling trees, authorities said.


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