Red to crest in Pembina lower than predicted

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The Pembina River is shown just below a bridge in the town of Pembina, N.D. Anna Jauhola / Special to Forum News Service

PEMBINA, N.D. - North Dakota’s oldest settlement is expecting the Red River to crest sometime Thursday or Friday at a level lower than predicted.

Pembina Public Works Superintendent Gary Helland said Tuesday, April 23, the prediction of a 52-foot crest dropped down to 49.5 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

“It’s only come up 12 hundredths since (Monday) at 4:30 p.m.,” Helland said.

Because the crest prediction dropped so much, the city disbanded regular flood meetings, which is good news. Their work isn’t over, but they can scale back and just keep a watchful eye on the Red and Pembina rivers.

On Friday, April 19, Helland and Public Works Assistant Blaine Eisenbeis placed clay levees between the Pembina River bridge and the permanent levees and flood wall. The Pembina River water had been slowly creeping up as the Red River backed up into the channel. Their hope was to prevent having to install the flood wall’s gate, and it has worked. Earlier in the week, the city closed access to a portion of Pembina State Park, which lies between the Red and Pembina rivers.


Tuesday, Helland said the water reached the bottom of the levees on the Pembina River bridge, but it’s moving slowly enough to be manageable.

“The water’s going to be here awhile -- probably a couple of weeks,” Helland said. “Once the water recedes, then we’ll start cleanup.”

Because the elevation of the land only drops approximately 5 feet between Drayton and the Canadian border, overland flooding along the Red River basin will be an issue over the coming weeks. Helland said Pembina County officials have said the Pembina River already is causing problems in the county.

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