With more rains forecast, residents in this North Dakota community are bracing for further destruction as the Souris River, already surpassing a 130-year flood record, has reached “epic proportions,” with the worst yet to come.
The fast-rising Souris River, swollen from heavy snowmelt, upstream rains, and waters being released from Canadian reservoirs, has forced the evacuation of at least 12,000 Minot residents, a quarter of the community’s population,
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, speaking on the US Senate floor earlier this week, said the river’s current flood levels are unprecedented. “Minot is facing a flood of epic proportions,” he told the Senate, his website notes.
The disheartening situation, caused by heavy rains upstream in the state and in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada has been exacerbated with outflows from Lake Darling being increased by the US Army Corps of Engineers to 29,000 feet per second (cfs). The increase is more than double what the corps had predicted just days earlier. Officials noted Minot’s levees were rated to withstand 9,500 cfs.
The Souris River, or Mouse River as its locally called, breached levees on Wednesday, forcing many residents to move to higher ground. Since then, the region has been added to a growing list of communities in the US dealing with staggering flooding events this year.
In May, the mighty Mississippi River dealt a devastating blow to the nation’s heartland, inundating homes, businesses and infrastructure in its record-setting flood. Earlier this month, the Missouri River dealt, and is still dealing, similar destruction as heavy snowmelt and rains in its watershed combined to cause massive flooding.
Levees being built at Minot State University.
Minot city officials expect the river to crest this weekend some 8 1/2 feet above flood stage, possibly as early as Saturday evening, and remain at that level for several days. However, a new rain event could change those predictions. The area has a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms for Saturday, with chances of additional rain through Monday.
The city’s mayor, Curt Zimbelman said: “A rain event right now would change everything. That’s the scariest,” according to CBS News. By late Friday, 2,500 homes were flooded, many with just their rooftops showing. By the time the flood waters crest, as many as 4,500 homes could be swamped by the flooding event.
US Air Force/Staff Sgt.John D. Comer
The Souris River floods Minot, North Dakota.
Upstream in nearby Burlington, a small town of about 1,000 people, officials have given up in their battle with the natural disaster. “We’re no longer able to save the city,” Mayor Jerome Gruenberg said on Thursday, MSNBC reports. The town sits at the confluence of the Souris and Des Lacs rivers, and sandbagging efforts were called off earlier this week, with labor resources sent downstream to help in the Minot disaster.
Minot Air Force Base, which oversees 150 Minuteman III underground nuclear missiles across an 8,500 square mile section of the northwest part of the state, noted there was only “localized flooding” at just several missile sites, with protective measures being taken earlier because of the unusually wet spring and summer.