Rising rivers lead to evacuationsMost of the 2,500 residents of Hazen, northwest of Bismarck, were filling sandbags Monday to fight the rising Knife River. Officials said five homes and the city’s golf course were flooded. The water was nearly 6 feet higher than the flood stage of 21 feet, said Una Reinhardt, of the city’s water department.
By: By James MacPherson, The Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Most of the 2,500 residents of Hazen, northwest of Bismarck, were filling sandbags Monday to fight the rising Knife River. Officials said five homes and the city’s golf course were flooded.
The water was nearly 6 feet higher than the flood stage of 21 feet, said Una Reinhardt, of the city’s water department.
“It’s rising about an inch an hour,” Reinhardt said early Monday afternoon. It was the highest water in town since 1966, when the river topped 27 feet, she said.
While eastern North Dakota residents battled the Red River, people in western and central North Dakota fought the sudden rise of other rivers from snowmelt accelerated by rain.
“The Red River Valley is a very flat geologic feature,” said Allen Schlag, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Bismarck. “So out there, the rivers have a little slower response time. Out here, we have the hills the Missouri River Breaks and the Badlands, which, when you pour water in them, it will either soak in or run off very rapidly. Our river velocities tend to be a little higher.”
In central North Dakota, Beaver Creek in Linton, the Knife River in Hazen and Spring Creek in Zap were at record flood stage Monday, Schlag said. They appeared to be starting to recede, though snow expected over the next couple of days could add to the problems.
Schlag said daytime high temperatures in the low 30s should help ease the severity of the snowmelt.
“If we were to continue to have 50-degree weather, this would be very, very bad,” he said.
People were advised to leave low-lying areas along the Missouri River in Mandan after the river rose about 6 feet. Schlag said that likely is due to an ice jam on the Heart River, which feeds into the Missouri.
The Army Corps of Engineers said water releases from Garrison Dam were being cut from 11,000 cubic feet per second to 6,000 cfs, to ease the risk of flooding in the Bismarck area from melting snow and ice.
The North Dakota National Guard said a Blackhawk helicopter rescued two people and two dogs from a farm near Carson, and two people from a farm near New Leipzig, in southwestern North Dakota, on Sunday night. Both farms were surrounded by up to 5 feet of water, the Guard said. Guard members worried the current and ice chunks would be too much for a boat.
“We had a small boat. They said, ‘Don’t even think about trying that,”‘ said Bernie Martin, who was rescued with his wife, Jenny, and two dogs from their farm near Carson. He said the farm is surrounded by a creek swollen from melting snow. He was thankful he had sold his cattle a week before.
“We’re just praising God that we got out,” Martin said. “I don’t know what to expect when we go back.”
Near Watford City, residents were battling a rising Cherry Creek.
In Mercer County, emergency manager Richard Sorenson said about 40 families abandoned their homes in Beulah on Sunday and early Monday morning. The county’s dive and rescue team used a boat to rescue two people from their homes on Monday, he said.
“There are no injuries — just a lot of people stressed out and worried,” Sorenson said.
“A significant portion of south Beulah is inundated with flood waters,” he said. “Basements are flooded and there is a significant loss of property at this point. But until the water goes down, we won’t know how much.”
In Mott, 10 homes on the west side of town were evacuated along the Cannonball River, Mayor Troy Mosbrucker said.
The river crested at about midnight Sunday, Mosbrucker said. “It’s gone down about a foot but now we’re worried about the snow we’re going to get,” he said.
Meteorologist Joshua Scheck, at the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said the weather forecast called for up to 18 inches of snow late Monday in an area from southwest North Dakota to the north central part of the state.
The heavy, wet snow is expected with thunder and lightning, in a phenomenon called thundersnow, Scheck said.
“While that makes hazardous travel, it contributes a less immediate threat to ongoing floods,” Scheck said. “But it could exacerbate receding floodwater later in the week.”
Mosbrucker said the snow could mean problems for the evacuated homes without heat. “All the gas has been shut off,” he said.
Families affected by the high water are those who refused government buyouts after a flood in 1997, the mayor said.
“The only ones affected are the ones who didn’t take the buyout,” Mosbrucker said. “I bet they are wishing they did now.”