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FLOOD NEWS: Guardsmen Install Flood Barrier Never Before Used in Fargo

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Wagner, of the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, drills a hole in pavement to secure an experimental AquaFence in place March 17 in Fargo, N.D. The AquaFence is being installed by the North Dakota Air National Guard for the City of Fargo as a test flood barrier to see if it might be effective for use in future flood protection.  (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp) (Released)

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Wagner, of the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, drills a hole in pavement to secure an experimental AquaFence in place March 17 in Fargo, N.D. The AquaFence is being installed by the North Dakota Air National Guard for the City of Fargo as a test flood barrier to see if it might be effective for use in future flood protection. (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp) (Released)

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Wagner, of the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, drills a hole in pavement to secure an experimental AquaFence in place March 17 in Fargo, N.D. The AquaFence is being installed by the North Dakota Air National Guard for the City of Fargo as a test flood barrier to see if it might be effective for use in future flood protection.  (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp) (Released)

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Wagner, of the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, drills a hole in pavement to secure an experimental AquaFence in place March 17 in Fargo, N.D. The AquaFence is being installed by the North Dakota Air National Guard for the City of Fargo as a test flood barrier to see if it might be effective for use in future flood protection. (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Casey Pritchard, of the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, assembles a section of AquaFence March 17 near NP Avenue in Fargo, N.D. The fence is being installed by the North Dakota Air National Guard as a test flood barrier for the City of Fargo to see if it might be effective for use in future flood protection.  (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Casey Pritchard, of the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, assembles a section of AquaFence March 17 near NP Avenue in Fargo, N.D. The fence is being installed by the North Dakota Air National Guard as a test flood barrier for the City of Fargo to see if it might be effective for use in future flood protection. (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp) (Released)

Fargo, N.D. -- North Dakota Air National Guard members became the first to install a new tool in the flood fight today when they placed a section of AquaFence in Fargo. The city has never used the product before, so the effort served as a demonstration of the ease with which it can be installed. As the Red River creeps toward its crest of 37 to 39 feet this weekend, the durability of the fence will be tested, as well.

"We're trying it out to see if it's a tool the city can use in future flood fights," said Nathan Boerboom, an engineer for the City of Fargo . "If it works out, the city may purchase some and use in future flood fights."

If by chance it doesn't work as anticipated, a clay dike stands ready behind it.

Airmen put in a little more than 200 linear feet of the barrier near NP Avenue on the North Dakota-Minnesota border today.

The AquaFence is a reusable barrier system that consists of plywood boards at right angles to each other with aluminum bars anchoring the panels.

"It's like a book that you just open up 90 degrees," said Marius Hansen, managing director for AquaFence.

A PVC shield connects each panel, which also is bolted to the ground.

"It's a very simple process," said Helge Kr√łgenes, AquaFence chairman, who traveled from company headquarters in Norway to show the Airmen how the system worked.

Each panel requires four people to carry it into position, but only one person is needed to set it up.

"This is a demo process, so the ground has not been prepared yet, so the set up will be a little bit longer here than what you can expect at normal times," Hansen said. He correctly estimated the two-plus hours the 14 Airmen would need to complete the project.

"We're here with a representative of the company and he's giving us some instruction on how it goes up, and the guys are staying busy putting it all together," said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Terry, noncommissioned officer in charge of the project.

According to Boerboom, some advantages that the AquaFence appears to offer over the HESCO barriers used frequently in last year's flood fight are that less clean up is involved and it's less intrusive on property.

"It's a pretty easy product to work with versus sandbags," said Master Sgt. Terry L. Babler.

Since the North Dakota National Guard began flood operations on Monday, sandbagging has been the major effort in the Fargo area.

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