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Fargo flood evacuation plan kept secret by authorities

Some Fargo residents are concerned that authorities won’t tell the public the details of the official flood evacuation plan — prepared in case the Red River’s level reaches dangerous proportions.

It supposedly details how an evacuation would be undertaken — including travel routes, staging locations and responsibility for executing the plan’s components.

The secret plan was blasted by the Fargo Forum in an editorial today:

Fargo city officials seem to believe residents of the city should be kept in the dark about flood evacuation procedures. They have stamped this season’s evacuation document “confidential,” which is a curious thing to do since the people who would be most affected by an ordered and orderly evacuation need to know the plan.

 The paper said the media was initially told there was no written evacuation plan, but then it was learned it did exist but wasn’t public:

Defenders of this Keystone Cops saga insist the plan is exempted from North Dakota open records law because it is a “security system plan.” Of course, attaching that convenient misrepresentation to the plan is City Hall’s doing. But the practical effect of a stealth plan is to first, undermine the city’s credibility in the flood fight, and second, to create an overblown security threat where none exists. One commissioner said the plan should be made public when the elevation of the Red River reaches 38 or 39 feet. How would the “security” picture have changed from today, with the river level at about 17 feet? Not much, we suggest. 

Fargo’s flood-fighting record is good. It engenders confidence. City residents have stepped up routinely to do their part. But a flimsy security protocol that keeps them in the dark about an evacuation plan insults their intelligence.

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