North Dakota Flooding Prompts Federal Disaster Designation

March 26, 2009

President Barack Obama has declared North Dakota a federal disaster area because of statewide flooding.

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven says the move means the federal government will pay 75 percent of state and local government costs for the flood fight. Hoeven says the state is grateful for the help.

In eastern North Dakota, Fargo residents are rushing to build dikes to head off a Red River flood crest of 39 to 41 feet on Friday. The river’s flood stage in Fargo is 18 feet.

Meanwhile, some south Bismarck residents who live near the Missouri River were forced to evacuate their homes when an ice jam caused unexpected flooding. A demolition team is attempting to break up the ice jam downstream from Bismarck.

However, a premature report that an upstream ice dam had broken on the Missouri River sent flood fears racing through Bismarck on Wednesday. Officials said the dam was intact, but the situation was tenuous.

The National Weather Service, which erroneously reported the jam’s break, left in place a flood warning for three counties because the situation was unpredictable, meteorologist Joshua Scheck said.

That jam was upstream of Bismarck, to the north. Meanwhile, explosives experts used a helicopter to examine a second ice jam downstream that they planned to try to attack with explosives and salt.

Flooding along the Missouri had already led to some evacuations in low-lying ares of Bismarck and Mandan, just across the river.

Snow has continued to fall in North Dakota, the result of a slow moving storm system.

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