The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org ) announced it is sending an emergency relief team to aid animals affected by record floods in North Dakota. The full team and IFAW’s 36-foot transport trailer are expected to be in Fargo on March 28.
The Red River in Fargo broke a 112-year-old record by climbing past 40.33 feet, the highest the river has ever been measured. The latest reports expect the river to crest at 43.5 feet for 5 days. The city’s main dike has been fortified to 43 feet, though the cold weather has frozen sandbags and made it difficult.
IFAW is looking at an initial sheltering effort of up to 5,000 animals, primarily pets. The animals are in Fargo but the sheltering sites are a significant distance to the west. Freezing temperatures and logistical challenges will make it difficult to provide immediate, adequate care for the animals.
“We simply won’t know the scale of the situation until we get on the ground. There may also be a significant number of livestock affected as well,” said Dick Green, IFAW’s Emergency Relief Manager of Disasters. “One positive development is that IFAW will be working with a coalition of animal-related groups that haven’t fully mobilized together since Hurricane Katrina.”
Nearly 150 residents have been rescued from flooded homes and more than 1,000 North Dakota National Guardsmen have been called in to help with the emergency. The floods are due to an unusually cold and snowy winter which left a larger-than-normal snowpack. Recent warm weather and heavy rains melted the snow and the frozen ground was unable to absorb the water. Since melting the temperature has fallen and was recorded at 10 degrees on March 27 with a wind chill of 4 degree below zero.
Flooding along the 550-mile (885-km) long Red River, in the upper reaches of the United States, could affect wheat crops in as many as 500,000 acres across North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. The banks of the river are not very high and flood waters may spread out huge distances over the flat landscape. North Dakota Governor?John Hoeven?has declared a state-wide flood emergency and the federal government has declared it major disaster?area and a public health emergency.
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