By Anna Jauhola
As the heavy area snowpack begins to thaw, Hallock officials are preparing for, at the very least, moderate flooding within city limits.
During a meeting on Wednesday, March 27, City Emergency Manager Mike Docken headed discussion of what city employees do leading up to a flood and how they handle flood waters during an event.
The Hallock dam is well below flood stage at this point, he said, which is when they take precautionary measures like filling sandbags to have on hand and monitoring the river gauges.
“We hope it doesn’t warm up too fast,” Docken said. “Last year at this time the water was flowing. But right now it freezes at night.”
When the water in the Two Rivers does begin to flow, and the river level reaches 802 feet (measured above sea level) the city closes public access to the spillway at Gilbert Olson Park. Officials more closely monitor the levees along the river, begin manning pumps and lift stations, and monitoring storm sewer valves.
Docken shared current flood predictions regarding the Two Rivers at Hallock from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This week, there is minimal chance of moderate flooding. But, reaching into the middle of April, NOAA predicts a 90 percent chance the Two Rivers at Hallock could barely reach the moderate flooding level of 806 feet.
The same information also predicts a 10 to 25 percent chance of reaching major flood stage above 810 feet.
“The potential is out there for a top three flood,” said Dan Money, director of the Two Rivers Watershed District. “It didn’t seem like there was much water early on this year, but the last couple of storms we got, there was a lot of water.”
Money told the group that the perfect thaw/freeze cycle is happening now, which will help keep flood waters at bay. However, should temperatures rise and freezing at night ceases, the snow will begin to melt more rapidly and could cause faster flooding.
“Moderate to major flooding is nearly guaranteed in the Red River Valley,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens on the Two Rivers. It’ll be moderate, at least.”
The next steps will be to gather volunteers and fill sandbags. Hallock Fire Chief Kevin Klein agreed with county Emergency Manager Scot Olson and Maintenance Foreman Shawn Anderson that approximately 2,000 sandbags need to be filled and available.
By Anna Jauhola