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Predators and sandbag bombs help Fargo flood fight

The Air National Guard is accustomed to piloting Predator drone airplanes, but not over Fargo.

The surveillance aircraft — which has gotten a lot of use in Afghanistan and Iraq — has come in handy in fighting the flood, a fight that has seen its share of high-tech innovations.

“We have an amazing amount of technology to fight these floods,” Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney said.

Authorities have used an unmanned Predator to fly over the area, taking real-time images of the rising Red River.

“Greg Gust, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said the the Predator has really helped.

“Our river forecasters are not only able to see in real time the aerial extent of the water but the flows going over land and all these breakouts, and actually measure that from those flights, which means getting an incredible handle on all that water we didn’t know where it was,” Gust told the Fargo Forum.

The unmanned aircraft is on loan from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The aircraft is permanently stationed in Grand Forks and being piloted from California, according to the National Guard.

Also, the National Guard is also dropping giant sandbags on weak parts of the levees.

Using a Black Hawk helicopter, the Guard placed 11 of the sandbags along the north side of Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo to slow the flow of water coming into the building, the Forum reports.

The reinforced plastic bags are cinched at the top and lifted by the helicopter’s cable system. People on the ground direct the bag exactly where it needs to be placed, the Forum reports.

Filed under: Flood, , , , ,

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