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Sandbags in place as Red River rises

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Sandbags in place as Red River rises

(CNN) -- The Red River kept rising to dangerous levels Friday as those in the area hoped they'd done enough to protect themselves.
Though the river is in a major flood stage, folks in Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, said they were optimistic after filling more than a million sandbags and stacking most of them.

"We're in good shape, and we have a lot of things in place in case there are any problems," Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said.

Walaker said the river is expected to crest in the next day or two at a level close to 3 feet below last year's record flood level.

In 2009, the Red River set a record 40.8 feet at Fargo. As of 12:15 a.m. ET Friday, the river was at 34.61 feet, more than 16 feet above the flood stage of 18 feet.

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

In Fargo, more than 700,000 sandbags had been placed around the city.

"We got done what we wanted to do as far as our goals for the flood of 2010, so we're in good shape today," Walaker said Thursday.

But still, parts of Fargo were flooding Friday, city officials said.

"The river is definitely well over its banks and has gone into adjacent city parks, different areas that are noncritical, not people's backyards or businesses or anything like that," Fargo spokeswoman Robyn Litke said.

But in the rural town of Hickson, about 15 miles south of Fargo, the flooding was well under way Thursday. Some homes in the area had been turned into islands, and residents have had to use boats to get around.

Some residents parked their cars blocks away from their homes and then walked to the edge of the river, where they have their boats parked.

Blain Johnson, 21, was one of the people rowing a boat to his home in waters that he estimated were 5 feet deep.

"This used to be a horse pasture below us," Johnson said as he rowed home.

Johnson said this is the fourth time his neighborhood has been inundated with water in the 10 years he has lived here. Each flood brings stress and fear, but he was trying to keep a positive outlook.

"Not everybody can say they can fish out of their window," he said.


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