Minot N.D. fights losing battle with flood waters
Published Friday, June 24, 2011 7:19PM CST
Minot, N.D. struggles to deal with a continuing onslaught of water from the Souris River after levees were breached Wednesday and over 11,000 were forced to leave low-lying areas of the city.
The Souris River is already 18 feet (almost 5.5 m) above normal levels and it's expected to rise another 6 feet (around 1.8 m) before Saturday.
Officials say 2,500 Minot homes already have significant water damage and up to 5,000 could be flooded by the time the Souris River peaks Saturday.
This will be the worst flood in Minot's history.
Crews are still working frantically to keep Minot's north and south access roads open and safe from flooding. Without them the city would be cut in half.
Heavy rainfall in the Souris River Basin in southeast Saskatchewan and North Dakota is being blamed for the onslaught of water.
"You hate to admit a defeat at anytime but as far as our permanent dike, it can't (hold back) the kind of water that we're going to see," said Minot mayor Curt Zimbelman.
The National Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are focusing their efforts on protecting Minot's water treatment plant and other critical city infrastructure.
Officials say there's nothing more they can do to save homes along the Souris River.
"Unfortunately we're unable to prevent the water from flooding so we're letting it flood," said Lt. Col Kendall Bergmann of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The grim reality for people in Minot is when all this water recedes, the homes they return to will have suffered severe damage from a river which isn't stopping for anything in its path.
"I'm just dreading the idea, the cost it's going to be to get that dried out and to recover that," said Minot resident Thomas Hill, who is currently staying at an emergency shelter.
Minot State University has been closed along with many businesses.
In Manitoba, meanwhile, residents in communities along the Souris River are preparing for the water south of the border to soon flow north.
The Kirkups have lived in their Souris home for half a century. They're hopeful dry weather, along with the distance the river has to travel, will help the situation in Manitoba.
"We're just hoping that with the number of miles between where it's at, coming out of Minot, between there and here there's enough miles to spread it out," said Bill Kirkup.
The crest in Souris will arrive in early July. The dikes in the community of Souris will have to be raised, but the mayor doesn't know to what level yet.
Due to the elevation in Wawanesa, combined with the dike built earlier this spring, it looks like the community will be prepared for a rise in water levels.
"We're going to have to strengthen what we've got because it's for an extended amount of time, but we're safe," said Bruce Gullett, mayor of Wawanesa.
The provincial government said it has been in contact with communities and RMs along the Souris River regarding flood-fighting measures.
Some of the dikes set up in the spring will be sufficient, while others may need to be raised or reinforced, said the province.
Officials will continue to assess the forecast for the Souris River as new information becomes available.
-- with reports from CTV's Josh Crabb and Laura Lowe