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Flood-related web, phone resources available from U of M

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University of Minnesota Extension announced today its coordinated system of online and phone answer resources available for those with flood-related questions, both during a flood emergency and while cleanup efforts are underway.

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According to the National Weather Service, the Red River will ultimately reach major flood stage and has a strong likelihood of a crest measuring among the top five highest on record, at various points along the watershed. A deep snowpack, recent heavy rain and expected rain have elevated the spring flood threat in the Red River Valley as well as in other parts of the Midwest.

"Many communities are already preparing for and taking measures to mitigate these flood threats over the next few weeks, but the frequency, intensity, and size of storms crossing the region in the next two weeks will significantly affect the magnitude of the flood crest as it moves north through the Red River watershed," according to Dr. Mark Seeley, Extension Climatologist.

The toll free phone services and Extension's flood impacts website, www.extension.umn.edu, click on "Floods & Rain," connect Minnesotans to the most up-to-date information on flood response, safety and cleanup issues. More useful information is being added to the website this week. Two phone services, the Farm Information Line and the AnswerLine, can also refer callers to appropriate state and federal agencies if additional information is needed.

"Extension's role during disaster situations like the expected flood is to provide practical, research-based information that people can trust," said Bev Durgan, dean of Extension. "Our staff work with state and local agencies responding to the floods and provide information via our website, news media stories and our phone answer lines."

The Farm Information Line (800-232-9077), staffed by Extension personnel Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., is a resource for questions about water, crops, horticulture and climatology issues. Questions at other times of the day and on weekends can be left on voice mail and will be returned during staffed hours. In addition, questions can be e-mailed to the Farm Information Line at fil@umn.edu, and a written response will be returned.

Extension's AnswerLine (800-854-1678), which can provide answers to household and family oriented questions, is staffed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

If callers are unsure about which answer service to contact, they should first call the Farm Information Line (800-232-9077), and Extension personnel will help direct them.

A one-stop online resource, the Extension flood website was reactivated on Mar. 19.

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