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March 26, 2009
Midwest flooding
Demolition crews blasted chunks of ice near a huge ice jam in the Missouri River on Wednesday in a bid to open a channel, like pulling a giant plug to drain a flood threatening the city of Bismarck, N.D. Officials planned two more rounds of explosives. "We are cautiously optimistic," Bismarck Mayor John Warford said after explosives detonated on about 500 feet of ice just south of the jam. Water backing up behind the dam of car-size ice blocks already had forced the evacuation of about 1,700 people from low-lying areas in North Dakota's capital city.

Meanwhile, on the eastern side of the state, volunteers continued stacking sandbags to protect Fargo amid new concern over the rising Red River. After days of predicting a crest ranging from 39 to 41 feet, the National Weather Service settled on the higher number. Mayor Dennis Walaker looked drawn and somber Wednesday evening after being upbeat in previous days, and described 41 feet as "uncharted territory." The Red's record high at Fargo was 40.1 feet in 1897. Walaker said he was still confident the city would beat the flood, but said contingency plans were needed. (21 images)

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Volunteers help place sandbags outside the home of Jeremy Kuipers in Moorhead, Minn., Tuesday, March 24, 2009. The home was built in 1902. AP / The Minneapolis Star Tribune / Richard Tsong-Taatarii


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One of Doug Stensguard's dogs, Annie, looks out over what used to be a 5-acre yard and an out building that is now flooded by the rising Red River, Tuesday, March 24, 2009 in Fargo, N.D. Stensguard built an earthen and sandbag dike around his home in the hope of holding back the rising floodwater from the Red River. AP / Carolyn Kaster



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From left: Jack Lubka, Dale Cardwell, Michael Stensgard and Doug Stensgard load sandbags into a boat as the Red River rises, Wednesday, March 25, 2009 in Fargo, N.D. The Sandbags are to reinforce the earthen and sandbag dike around the Stensgard home that can only be reached by boat. AP / Carolyn Kaster



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As the Red River rises in the background, Gloria Brown hauls a wagon load of sandbags to pile around her neighbor's home in the hope of holding back floodwaters, Tuesday, March 24, 2009 in Fargo, N.D. AP / Carolyn Kaster



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Kasey Karlstad of Maryville, N.D., left and Tanner Linstad of Fordville, N.D., pass sandbags to pile around the Schell home in the hope of holding back floodwaters of the Red River Tuesday, March 24, 2009 in Fargo, N.D. AP / Carolyn Kaster



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Volunteers work with sandbags to protect Applecourt senior citizens housing unit in Breckenridge, Minn., Monday, March 23, 2009. An unexpected dip in the Red River miles upstream on Tuesday cheered sandbaggers struggling to raise this city's protective dikes high enough to withstand possible record flooding. The National Weather Service lowered its crest forecast for Wahpeton and its cross-river neighbor, Breckenridge, Minn., downward to 18 feet by Wednesday morning, well below the tops of their dikes. AP / The Minneapolis Star Tribune / Richard Sennott



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Randy Ward looks out of Dick Huntley's flooded home into the garage with a bag of clothing as he is about to be rescued by the U.S Coast Guard, Wednesday, March 25, 2009, on Pfiffer Drive in Hickson, N.D. AP / Carolyn Kaster



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Doug Stensgaard uses one of his family's boats to get back to their home from the Red River, Wednesday, March 25, 2009, near Fargo. The Red was expected to crest at Fargo between 39 and 41 feet by Saturday morning, though an updated forecast was due from the weather service later Tuesday. By about midday Tuesday, the river had reached 30.5 feet at Fargo, up about five feet since Monday morning. AP / The Star Tribune / Richard Tsong-Taatarii



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U.S. Coast Guard evacuates residents of Oxbow, N.D. from the rising flood waters, Wednesday, March 25, 2009. The Red was expected to crest at Fargo between 39 and 41 feet by Saturday morning, though an updated forecast was due from the weather service later Tuesday. By about midday Tuesday, the river had reached 30.5 feet at Fargo, up about five feet since Monday morning. AP / The Star Tribune / Richard Sennott



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Large sheets of ice jam the swollen Missouri River north of Bismarck, N.D. on Wednesday March 25, 2009. Extensive flooding in low lying areas is forcing residents in communities close to the river to evacuate. AP / The Bismarck Tribune / Tom Stromme



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Water fills most of a field near homes south of West Fargo, N.D. Saturday, March 21, 2009 as the snow melt continues. The National Weather Service said the Red River was about 3 feet above flood stage Sunday, March 22, 2009 in Fargo and more water was on the way. AP / The Forum / Dave Wallis



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Flooding is seen in Starke County, Ind., Monday March 16, 2009. AP / Post-Tribune / Michael McArdle



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Mike Wieser walks near his home on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 in Oxbow, N.D.. While residents of Fargo have been preparing for floods, people like Wieser in rural areas are already engulfed by water. Wieser spent Wednesday tightening up his homemade dike and hoping that pumps could spit out more water than was coming into his home. AP / Nate Jenkins



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North Dakota National Guard troops shore up a dike during a snowstorm along the rising Red River behind the Shriners Center Wednesday, March 25, 2009 in Fargo, N.D. AP / Jim Mone



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Residents of Appletree Court senior citizen housing unit watch as volunteers help place sandbags along the Red River in Breckenridge, Minn, Tuesday, March 24, 2009. AP / The Star Tribune / Richard Sennott



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Zach Boor, 12-years-old, whose face is splattered with mud, passes a sandbag down the line as he joined college students to help build a dike along the north side of Rose Coulee Monday, March 23, 2009 in Fargo, N.D. Boor was excused from classes at Discovery Middle School so he could join thousands of other volunteers to build dikes to protect the city from the flooding Red River. AP / The Forum / Dave Wallis



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Residents decide to evacuate their home in Oxbow, N.D. Wednesday, March 25, 2009. AP / The Star Tribune / Richard Tsong-Taatarii



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Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Matt Tholen, left, watches as fellow officer Todd Pekny and Carroll County Sheriff department deputy Steve Mullin, right, help Terry King out of a boat after rescuing her and others along the flooded Tippecanoe River Wednesday, March 11, 2009, near Delphi, Ind.. AP / Journal & Courier / Michael Heinz



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Emergency workers use an air boat to rescue Destiny Dolan, front left, 15, and friend Kayla Weston, 15, on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 from a home that was surrounded by Red River floodwaters in Oxbow, N.D., south of Fargo. Dolan said the experience of being trapped was terrifying. The home was one of several evacuated on Wednesday in rural areas outside of Fargo, which is preparing for a flood of its own that could come in the next few days. AP / Nate Jenkins



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Dan Fraley of the U.S. Coast Guard surveys the flooded home of Dick Huntley, Wednesday, March 25, 2009, on Pfiffer Drive in Hickson, N.D. Huntley called for rescue when the Red River floodwaters broke through his sandbags and flooded his home. AP / Carolyn Kaster



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Air National Guard helicopters lands demolition crews on the Missouri River, near Bismarck, N.D. Wednesday March 25, 2009. Demolition crews blasted chunks of ice near a huge ice jam in the Missouri River on Wednesday in a bid to open a channel, like pulling out a giant plug to drain a flood threatening the city. AP / The Bismarck Tribune / Tom Stromme



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