North Dakota Battles Flooding Again; More Expected

April 14, 2009

A levee breach along the Sheyenne River in North Dakota had officials scrambling for a fix and National Guard helicopters dropping 1,000-pound sandbags into the gap in the levee in Valley City, about 60 miles west of Fargo, early on April 13.

Officials had recommended a large part of the town of 6,875 to evacuate. The National Weather Service said the Sheyenne was expected to crest today in Valley City about two feet higher than the record set in 1882. That would close all but one of the town’s 11 bridges.

The Sheyenne River empties into the Red River, which is expected to reach a second flood crest of its own near Fargo this week.

The Sheyenne is the Red River’s scenic tributary. It begins in the center of North Dakota and meanders east and south before taking a final loop north into the Red, which follows a northerly course along the Minnesota-North Dakota line.

County officials have called in the Coast Guard to help prepare for potential emergency evacuations, possibly using air boats or helicopters, Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said.

Flooding is a continuing worry along rivers and creeks throughout North Dakota, with sandbagging construction or patrols during the weekend from Burlington in the northwest to Lisbon in the southeast. About 900 National Guard soldiers were on duty and more are on alert in case they’re needed.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for all or parts of 35 counties in western and central North Dakota due to flooded rivers and streams.

Most residents of Horace, about 10 miles outside Fargo, and suburban West Fargo are protected from the Sheyenne by a diversion canal that routes water outside the city during floods.

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