Rural Dickey County roads blocked by water

DICKEY COUNTY, N.D. -- Navigating around county roads here is like a maze. They all go somewhere but many are dead ends, with water blocking the way.

John M. Steiner / The Sun A township road leading north of the Scott Muggli farm in Dickey County is flooded with about 4 feet of water.

DICKEY COUNTY, N.D. -- Navigating around county roads here is like a maze. They all go somewhere but many are dead ends, with water blocking the way.

Scott Muggli, an area farmer, knows the roads well. He has put more than $30,000 of his own money into maintaining one small stretch.

Sloughs in the area are bloated with water as heavy rains have left the ground saturated on top of precipitation from last winter. With no where else to go, the water has flowed into roads.

"The sloughs are so full and they're draining themselves, cutting over roads and running down hills," Muggli said.

To the north of Muggli's farm, 100th Avenue Southeast is covered by 4 1/2 foot waters that stretch for miles. He purchased 10 loads of gravel and a grader to add to the already soaked and sinking Kent Township road south of his home.


Muggli said the road is now good enough for him to get out and take his children to the bus stop, which moved two miles away.

But with the plethora of impassable and spongy roads, emergency response vehicles would either be too late trying to find a passable route or get stuck, he said.

"I don't think there's any good way for emergency people to know where to go," Muggli said.

Mail hasn't arrived at his home since early spring. When a FedEx package came, the delivery man dropped it off at the nearest house three-quarters of a mile away. Muggli said his wife traveled 28 miles to get that package.

On top of being virtually shut out from the world due to water with nowhere to go, Muggli can't take his semi out to sell 150,000 bushels of wheat he has stored.

Water has also kept him from planting 40 percent of his 5,000-acre crop and he has 200 tons of fertilizer to show for it.

"Are we just going to look at the water and wait for it to go down?" he said.

Muggli's neighbors, 1 mile north, are in a different boat, or soon may need a boat themselves.


What once was a plush, green, 80-acre lot now has waves rolling past. The house that remains in the middle has become an island on roughly 2 1/2 acres with a flooded-out basement.

This is the home of Kevin and Teresa Kasprick and there is no place for more water to go, except the home itself. Four more inches of water would cause the septic system to fail for a second time, Kevin said. He rigged a new one up after it failed the first time.

"It seems to be the holding point for miles around and it's our yard," he said.

Water has always been part of the scenery at the Kasprick house, but for the first time since they moved in 10 years ago, the two sloughs connected into one and kept gaining size.

Teresa ran her Mary Kay cosmetics business out of her finished basement, which had to be gutted. Water destroyed her home office and $5,000 worth of products.

"The house right now is the biggest issue because what do you do when it comes in?" Teresa said. "You can't keep up with it and nothing is covered (by insurance) because a pipe didn't break so there's nothing to fall back on."

No broken pipes means no insurance money, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has told the Kasprick's that there is no money, Teresa said.

Their situation is not like that on the Red River, where water eventually goes down. This water has been high for months, Kevin said. Also, FEMA buys out homes on the Red River, while people away from Fargo get little-to-no help, he said.


Still the family tries to keep things light.

"To make light of the situation, it could be an indoor archery range, I guess," Kevin said of the now empty basement.

Water accumulation is no stranger to Dickey County. When water builds up, gravel is thrown on the roads to keep them quasi passable, said Charlie Russell, director of emergency services.

In the southern parts of the county, the water can be easily diverted in the James or Maple rivers, said Charlie Russell, director of emergency services.

The central part of the county poses a bigger risk because there is no close location for the water to go.

A problem with taking care of the water is who owns the land where it ends up, Russell said.

The 4 1/2 foot deep slough that stretches 3 miles and covers nearly 700 acres by Muggli's home is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, some is designated as Conservation Reserve Program land with federal contracts. Ducks Unlimited also owns portions of the land.

"Ducks Unlimited has more power than the Mormon Church in Utah," he said of the organization's sway in North Dakota.


The road by Muggli's house could just as easily be diverted but the land is owned by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Russell said.

"The problem of it is, you've got to change federal law," he said.

Russell is working on setting up a group meeting with all the parties involved, which he said may take some time.

"It's time to start addressing the water instead of throwing dirt on it," he said.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455

or by e-mail at

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