FARGO, N.D. —The good news was all about things that didn't happen: No floodwaters pushing aside hastily built sandbag walls, no neighborhoods evacuated, no residents wondering if they'd ever see their homes again.
The Red River crested in Fargo on Sunday without doing major damage.
A year after record flooding forced thousands in the area to evacuate and damaged about 100 homes, officials and residents used a host of lessons learned to prepare for this year's less intense — but still potentially destructive — rush of water.
Thousands of volunteers, including children, stacked more than 1 million sandbags and crews built miles of clay levees to keep the water away. Officials gave residents tips on building better dikes, including clearing the ground of snow and ice. And the city held exercises to map the best routes for trucking sandbags to neighborhoods.
The Red River crested Sunday afternoon at just under 37 feet — 19 feet above flood stage — and was on its way down as evening approached. Only some baseball fields, farmland and backyards were submerged.
Residents of Fargo and its neighbor across the river, Moorhead, Minn., felt better prepared and luckier than last year, when the river crested nearly 4 feet higher.
"The sense is we've made it. We're thankful and let's have a party," said Bob Ona, senior pastor at Fargo's First Assembly of God church in Fargo, where volunteers gathered over the past week before heading out to the city's so-called Sandbag Central.