LAMOURE COUNTY, N.D.—Community volunteers and high school students filled sandbags in the city of LaMoure while officials kept an eye on the level of the James River Tuesday.
Dave Bellin, a volunteer with the LaMoure Fire Department, said filling the sandbags was an act of preparation, rather than responding to an immediate need.
"I hope we don't need them at all," he said. "But wherever the need arises, we're ready."
Students from LaMoure Public School came in groups as class schedules allowed while adult volunteers filled, tied and stacked the bags on pallets for storage or transportation.
Marylou Gentzkow lives near the river and was tying the bags filled by others. She said her home could be threatened if ice jams caused the river to rise.
"I felt like we needed to do our part," she said.
Originally, the goal was to fill 3,000 sandbags, Early on Tuesday afternoon that goal was raised to 5,000 sandbags, according to Kimberly Robbins, LaMoure County emergency manager.
Robbins said LaMoure County officials had received a number of flood forecasts with crests varying from 15.3 feet to 15.8 feet at LaMoure.
A crest of 15.3 feet would be the fifth highest recorded at the James River in the city of LaMoure since records have been kept. The highest river level was 17.56 feet reached on April 15, 2009.
The National Weather Service put the level of the James River at LaMoure at 14.8 feet Tuesday afternoon.
"There are ice jams that will cause fluctuation in the river," Robbins said, "but there is a lot of inflow from local streams and overland."
That inflow is being fed from melting snow in the area as temperatures rise. A map provided by the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center shows parts of LaMoure County still have between 2 and 4 inches of moisture remaining on the ground.
LaMoure County officials are currently planning to handle a crest of up to 16 feet, Robbins said. That rises to the level of moderate flooding at LaMoure.
"We have crews ready to come in," Robbins said, referring to sandbagging or other flood-related tasks.
Crews from the city of LaMoure were also pumping water from the storm sewer system and other areas in the city as part of its flood management plan Tuesday.
Upstream from the city of LaMoure, the rising river inundated the LaMoure County Memorial Park in Grand Rapids flooding buildings, roads and a portion of the golf course.
"Most of the course is pretty well covered," said Jeannie Davis, clubhouse manager at the Memorial Park Country Club. "The putting green is still covered with snow but that will turn to water soon."
Davis said it was her first year at the golf course, but she had heard from others this was the most water on the course in recent years.
Davis said the clubhouse was scheduled to start taking deliveries of supplies for the upcoming summer golf season. Those supplies are being stored off site until the water recedes.
"This will likely delay the start of golfing," she said. "It will take a couple of weeks to get things ready even after the water goes down."