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Stutsman County flood damage estimated at $4.2 million this fall

Damage to roads accounts for most of the total.

Freezing water 11-11.JPG
Ice begins to form on the Jamestown Reservoir on Monday, Nov. 11. Alex Taylor / The Sun

Infrastructure damage

Preliminary estimates place the damage to roads and other government infrastructure caused by this fall's wet weather and early snow at more than $4.2 million, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator.

Bergquist called the figures a "highly preliminary damage assessment" made for submission to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as one of the first steps toward possibly receiving a presidential disaster declaration. The estimate is based on damage to public property and does not include damages to private property or crops.

The bulk of the damage occurred on township roads. Reports indicate about 225 locations scattered around 51 of Stutsman County's 64 townships with damages estimated at more than $3.4 million, Bergquist said.

Damages to Stutsman County roads not part of the federal highway aid system were estimated at $606,000. Damage estimates from Jamestown, Medina, Streeter, Courtenay and Cleveland totaled about $200,000.

"There is no presidential declaration or federal assistance yet," Bergquist said. "This is all part of the process to document the damage we do have."

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Bergquist said the next step is a FEMA review of the damages submitted by the local governments.

"Will that be enough to convince FEMA to pursue a presidential declaration?" he said. "We may not know to the end of the year."

If a presidential disaster declaration is issued, FEMA covers 75% of costs associated with repairing damages caused by flooding. The state of North Dakota has contributed 10% in past disasters, leaving a 15% local cost share for any disaster-related repairs.

Continued releases

The reservoir level at the Pipestem Dam has been falling for the past week while the water continues to rise at the Jamestown Dam, Bergquist said.

Pipestem Dam peaked at 1,475 feet above sea level and has dropped nearly 5 feet to 1,470.2 feet as of Monday morning. Pipestem Reservoir needs to drop another 28 feet to reach its planned winter elevation. Currently, inflows to the Pipestem are 350 cubic feet per second with releases from the dam at 700 cfs as of the end of day Monday.

The peak water level at Pipestem Dam was the eighth highest ever recorded at the dam.

Inflows to the Jamestown Reservoir are at about 1,200 cfs with outflows set at 700 cfs as of end of day Monday.

"It is (Jamestown Reservoir) is still going up for awhile," Bergquist said.

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When the reservoir crests, it will likely be the 11th highest level ever recorded at Jamestown Dam. The level is currently about 12 feet above the planned winter level for the Jamestown Reservoir.

"So far the flow through Jamestown is going well," Bergquist said, referring to the combined 1,400 cfs flowing through Jamestown.

Ice formation has started on the Jamestown and Pipestem reservoirs although not on the James River.

"The Corps (of Engineers) has been watching the water temperature in the river very closely," Bergquist said. "It's all a learning curve right now."

That learning curve may extend to next spring. Bergquist said corps officials estimate about 60,000 acre feet of water frozen in place in the headwaters of the James River and Pipestem Creek. That water, along with any snow accumulated over the winter, will be part of the runoff next spring when temperatures warm.

For comparison, the current combined releases of 1,400 cfs drain approximately 116 acre-feet per hour from the system.

How that additional water will impact water levels next spring is unknown.

"There really is no precedent for that," Bergquist said.

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Freezing water 11-11 two.JPG
The James River sees ice begin to form on the cold afternoon of Monday, Nov. 11. Alex Taylor / The Sun

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