Kensal handling high waterIt wasn’t the 3 to 3 1/2 inches of rain Kensal received in about an hour Saturday morning that caused localized flooding. It was the fact that the rain came on top of an estimated 20 inches of rain in the past three weeks that caused the problems.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
KENSAL, N.D. — It wasn’t the 3 to 3 1/2 inches of rain Kensal received in about an hour Saturday morning that caused localized flooding.
It was the fact that the rain came on top of an estimated 20 inches of rain in the past three weeks that caused the problems.
“We need to get the water out,” said Peter Johnson, mayor of Kensal. “The east part of town is the lowest. There is a lot of groundwater in this area but in the whole town the groundwater is too high.”
Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager, said Doppler radar estimates put the total rainfall in Kensal and the northern portion of Stutsman County at between 25 and 30 inches for the last three weeks.
Local reports in the Kensal area weren’t quite as high.
“A guy in the Bordulac area who keeps track said he’d received 19 inches in July,” Johnson said. “Near Kensal here another report was 21 inches. Some of the storms would drop 4 inches in one place and only a couple inches a mile down the road, so it varies.”
The water accumulated in a series of depressions across the east and north parts of Kensal. The local fire department was leading an effort to use pumps to move the water out of the community.
“Mostly we’re trying to move this slough over the hill to the next slough,” Johnson said. “Then we can pump the water from the other low spots in town into this slough and then over the hill.”
The effort required the trucks and pumps of the Kensal Rural Fire Department as well as pumps and irrigation pipe from area farmers. The pumps were moving the water about 1,000 feet along N.D. Highway 9 north of town.
Johnson said the fire department had maintained the pumping operation day and night through the weekend and also responded to the train derailment at the James River Saturday.
The high water strained the city sewer system but the widespread use of backup preventers by residents prevented any damage. The city was under unofficial water and sewage restrictions.
“We’re a small town and we’ve pretty much talked to everybody,” Johnson said. “All are trying to use less water.”
Johnson said the city lift station continued to operate and the town was requesting an early discharge permit from its lagoon. He said removing standing water in the community would reduce the stress on the sewer lift station and reduce the amount of water going into the lagoon.
For long-time residents, the high water was a new experience.
“I’ve lived in Kensal since 1945 and in this house since 1954,” said Mary Kulla, resident of eastern Kensal. “This is by far the wettest I’ve seen.”
Kulla said even in the highest spring runoff the water doesn’t reach her lawn. Her tool shed had about 2 feet of water in it Monday.
The water has also inundated roads in the rural area around the community.
“The four-corner intersection could possibly look at $600,000 or more to raise,” said Mickey Nenow, Stutsman County road superintendent. “They are looking at doing some drainage to reduce the cost of raising the grade.”
The area is the intersection of County Road 44 and a Nogosek Township road marked as 86th Avenue Southeast. Both the county and township roads are underwater for about a half mile, Nenow said.
Nenow said other roads in the Kensal area were underwater but a count of closed roads had not been completed.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com