Flood warnings were posted along the Red River, expected to crest at 19 feet - at least 9 feet over flood stage. The river crested at 19.2 feet in 1997, damaging or destroying hundreds of homes in what was called the flood of the century.
Other towns on both sides of the river put their faith in earthen levees hastily being constructed under supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Melting snow, ice and spring rains have filled rivers and streams to overflowing in western and southeastern Minnesota.
Crews spent days shoring up levees to protect Crookston, a town of 8,000 along the Red Lake River in northwestern Minnesota. The river crested 11 feet above flood stage Monday before receding. The dikes held, and the fear now is that the waterlogged levees could break.
Earth-moving equipment constructed levees in Granite Falls and Montevideo, Minn., and at Grand Forks, N.D., which was devastated by flooding in 1997.
Levees also were being built in Fargo, 75 miles south of Grand Forks, to divert rising waters. Fargo began a $40 million flood control improvement project after the 1997 flood.
In central Minnesota, flood warnings were in effect on the Mississippi River in anticipation of heavy thunderstorms today and Thursday. The Mississippi was expected to crest at about 20 feet in St. Paul, 6 feet above flood stage, and high enough to cover runways at St. Paul Downtown Airport.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press said owners of 180 aircraft were told to move their planes to higher ground or fly to another airport before the water rises.
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