OSLO, Minn. — City leaders and community members are keeping a wary eye on the rising Red River as Oslo faces a historic fall flood emergency.
As of mid-morning Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Red River at Oslo was at 36.5 feet, 10.5 feet above flood stage. The river is forecast to crest at 36.8 feet Friday, Oct. 18, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks said. A state of emergency was declared in Oslo Monday.
On Wednesday, Oslo Mayor Erika Martens told about 35 people gathered at the Oslo Community Center for an emergency flood meeting that the city would take a wait-and-see approach to the flooding.
While the community is used to spring flooding, the river has never been this high in October, Martens said.
“This one is so different. There are no ice jams. There’s nothing freezing. Everything is flowing fast,” she said. “I wish we had answers for everybody, but we don’t. It’s going to be day by day right now.”
Martens wants to avoid dike patrols, if possible, she said.
“Right now, I’d like to keep everyone and everything off of the dikes because they’re soft and they’re a mess,” Martens said.
Several people at the meeting offered to fill sandbags.
“Four months from now when we’re doing this again, then we have a stockpile,” said Jason Boman, Marshall County Sheriff.
Martens told Boman she wanted to have some sandbags on hand, but didn’t want to lay in a huge supply. If the sandbags aren’t used, they will go to waste because they won’t keep over winter unless they are inside, she said. The city has nowhere to store the bags.
“I hate to make people go through a whole lot of work,” Martens said.
She and other city leaders at the flood meeting decided they would fill about 2,000 sandbags so they would have some on hand for community members.
Martens asked those gathered at the meeting to put signs on their doors if they were going to leave town.
“In case there’s a major catastrophe, then we’re not out looking for you," said Marten, who urged community members to look out for one another. “Just help each other out. If anyone needs anything, call."
The city will hold a 9 a.m. emergency meeting each day at the Oslo Community Center until the floodwaters recede, Martens said. In the meantime, residents will receive emergency alert texts on their phones.
Martens expressed confidence that the city is as prepared as it can be to face the rising Red River, Martens said. This is the third flood the city has faced in the past six months. Besides the spring flood, the Red River at Oslo also spilled over its banks in July.
“We’ve got a good crew. They’ve been through it, and everybody kind of steps up,” Martens said.