Manitobans Thinking Twice Before Heading to North Dakota

Flood Watch 2009

Grand Forks Flood 1997Manitoba spring break is just a week away for thousands of students across the province. While some students jet away to warmer destinations, many choose to stay closer to home and take a road trip to Grand Forks or Fargo, North Dakota.

With the threat of a flood looming across many southern Manitoba communities, including in the U.S., many residents are thinking twice about heading down Highway 75 beginning March 27.

You’ve probably seen the news footage this weekend from Fargo, where the city has had to enlist the help of 225 National Guard soldiers to fill sandbags. Officials there believe flood levels could exceed those of 1997. It’s a scary thought for many residents living within the flood zone. That’s why Manitobans are not only taking precautions to secure their own property, but are also making alternative vacation plans.

I wanted to get a sense of how the flood threat was affecting bookings at local hotels in both Grand Forks and Fargo. On Sunday I called 10 hotels to see if reservations were being made or cancelled by Manitoba residents looking to unwind during the upcoming spring break. According to most hotels, there were still availabilities for the upcoming break, which is unusual given the time of year I was told.

Another hotel said they had received four cancellations from Manitobans within the last week. “I think many are worried about coming down here and not being able to get back. I-95 (Highway 75) might be washed out soon,” said a clerk at the Canad Inns Grand Forks.

Meanwhile, American officials are desperately seeking the help of volunteers to fill sandbags. “We need this help,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said. “We need to stay calm, we need to stay cool, but we need to get serious and get this done.”

The U.S. National Weather Service said the Red River was about 0.9 metres above flood stage Sunday in Fargo and more water was on the way. The river was expected to crest between 11-12.5 metres in the Fargo-Moorhead area by Friday, a day earlier and a third of a metre higher than projected.

— With files from
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