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Gov. Walz authorizes National Guard to help with northwestern Minnesota flood threat

Record flooding is expected to impact the city of Crookston, Minnesota along the Red Lake River.

CROOKSTON, Minn — Volunteers and National Guard members in northwestern Minnesota spent two days sandbagging to fortify the city of Crookston from an expected record flood along the Red Lake River.

Over the weekend, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz authorized 100 members of the Guard to assist with the flood fight after heavy rains forced the the tributary of the Red River to spill its banks. At least 50 Guard members were on hand over the weekend to aid efforts through Sunday.

The National Weather Service is predicting the Red Lake River to near 29 feet on Monday or Tuesday. The current record high water mark is 28.4 feet, set in 1997.

No injuries or damage have been reported and the city has not asked anyone to evacuate, Crookston Police Chief Darin Selzler said. Officials were switching from a sandbagging to monitoring stage late Sunday, the Crookston Times reported.

According to the governor's emergency executive order, a Crookston fire station and housing development, in addition to local roads, have been threated by flooding.

Several counties in the northwestern Minnesota region have declared local emergencies and activated their emergency plans, according to Walz’s office. A number of county roads were covered with water or washed out, and officials warned motorists about attempting to drive through flooded areas.

Walz's order will remain in effect "until the emergency conditions caused by the flooding subside or expire" in accordance with Minnesota statues.

“When our neighbors are in trouble, we step up to lend a hand,” Gov. Walz said in a statement Sunday. “I am proud that the Minnesota National Guard has answered this call to serve. The support of the Guard will be critical to ensuring the safety of Minnesotans during this difficult time.”

The Red Lake River flows into the Red River at East Grand Forks and Grand Forks, North Dakota. Officials from the two cities have started to activate some of their permanent flood protection measures put into place following a 1997 flood that devastated the two cities.

Forecasters expect a crest of 48 feet later this week on the Red River in Grand Forks. Flood stage is 18 feet. Officials on Monday planned to close one of the bridges that connects the two cities. Built-in floodwalls were being activated on both sides of the river, officials from the two cities said.

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