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In Fargo, Alcohol Sales Rose Along With Red River

DAN SEWELL

FARGO, N.D. (AP) ¿ In the debate over which businesses are essential during an emergency, many local liquor stores and bars had no doubt about where they fell during the Red River flood threat.

"It's been like New Year's Eve," Andy Urton said, manning the counter at Village West Liquors, where he rang up $4,000 in sales in the first two hours he was open one recent day as people lined up to buy beer by the case to fuel sandbagging efforts or 1.75-liter bottles of vodka to ease the aches and stress of flood preparation.

Self-medication with alcohol during crises worries mental health experts, who say it can lead to long-term problems. But in an upper Midwest state where drinking is a popular pastime during the long, cold winters, it only makes sense to some residents.

"You've got to do it," said Brian Jorgensen, 39. "You kind of hurt at the end of the day."

At Main Liquors in West Fargo, manager James Shaffer said liquor and beer flowed out steadily in the days before the Red River crested and receded without widespread damage. The store closed three hours early last Friday, at 10 p.m., because of the flood emergency but still did triple a usual Friday's business.

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