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Battle on the Red River

MOORHEAD, Minn. – I'm standing on the banks of the Red River in Moorhead, Minn., looking across toward Fargo while police close down one of the bridges.   

The rising waters are now lapping up against the top of the metal structure and it appears ready to go under. Down the way, a long freight train trundles across another bridge, which also appears to be in a precarious state.

VIDEO: Record flooding feared

Despite the fervent prayers of local residents, it's apparent today that a miracle is not on the way for these two communities and dozens of others across the plains. The Red River continues to rise into "uncharted territory," according to local officials.

While they used dynamite on Wednesday to break up ice floes blocking up water near Bismarck, N.D. to save that city, they are using sandbags here. 

Now the river is expected to crest in Fargo at a record 41 feet – the high end of previous estimates – so floodwalls need to go even higher; but it is clear the volunteers helping to build them are beginning to feel the strain.

SLIDESHOW: Fighting floodwaters in Fargo

Local nursing homes are being evacuated of residents just in case, while the Red Cross opens shelters in other communities. The Red Cross says the fear and worry is starting to take it's a toll.

But still they come. From hundreds of miles away volunteers continue to arrive to spend hours filling sandbags or slogging through icy mud and cold to bolster the floodwalls.

All this, and the worst isn't even supposed to arrive until the weekend.

And what's today's goal? Another half million sandbags deployed.