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Alumnus works to protect Fargo from floodwaters

NDSU alumnus Scott Satermo is in the very thick of Fargo’s battle against the Red River floodwaters. As the owner of Rising Sun Construction and North Core Corp., his crews are helping to build Fargo’s temporary emergency dike system — the city’s major line of defense.

Working around the clock, Satermo’s crews are responsible for the dikes from 7th Avenue North to the Ridgewood area of the city near 19th Avenue North. Those clay dikes are holding the waters back from the Oak Grove neighborhood, Mickelson Park and the El Zagel golf course.

The Corps of Engineers informed Satermo at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, his crews needed to be on site by 7 a.m. the next morning. That gave him less than 12 hours to get equipment in place and notify his staff.

“We had to scramble,” Satermo said, as he took a short break on Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve been going 24 hours a day, running four to five crews constantly since we got the call. We’ve got four bulldozers, two backhoes, three loaders and three skid steers, and there are 15 to 20 people going all the time.”

Employees of both of his companies, which have offices in Fargo and Omaha, Neb., are working at least 12-hour shifts. “We get short-handed sometimes, but the guys jump right in and run even longer shifts,” explained Satermo, who graduated from NDSU in 1996 with a major in civil engineering. “We’ve brought on all of my employees to get this job done.”

Satermo looks at this flood with an experienced eye, because he was a city engineer for the City of Fargo during the 1997 flood. “We seemed to have more time in ’97,” he said. “The southern part of the city has grown so much since then; so the city has a massive amount of work to get done. It’s pretty overwhelming.”

The dikes Satermo’s crews have built stand at 42 feet at locations south of 12th Avenue North and 41 feet on the north side of that roadway. But, there’s more work to do after Wednesday afternoon’s flood projection. His crews now need to raise the dikes to 43 feet.

As he turned back to the flood fight, Satermo wanted to express his appreciation to the employees, volunteers and neighbors who have joined in this struggle.

“You’ve got an array of contractors working with the city, the Corps of Engineers and the schools. Everybody is working together; the communication has been great,” Satermo said. “Everybody is doing whatever they can, and that is reassuring that we can get it done.”


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