(Photo: Reuters / Lane Hickenbottom)
Up to 12,000 people will evacuate from Minot, N.D., today to escape the imminent onslaught of flood waters that will soon overflow levees along the Souris River and swallow much of the fourth largest city in the state.
Weeks of heavy rain have swelled the Canadian reservoirs in the Souris River basin, forcing dangerous water releases to the Souris River. The basin has received about 200 percent more rain water than normal in the last two months. The Souris River is expected to reach a record-breaking 1,560 feet by Monday, squashing the previous record set in 1881 of 1,558 feet.
Water pushing down the Souris River Valley will test Lake Darling Dam, which is expected to release up to 20,000 cubic feet per second later this week.
The Minot Daily News reports that the Saskatchewan reservoirs were already releasing water at an astounding rate of 28,000 cubic feet per second on Tuesday morning.
“What I see right now is probably the most devastating in terms of the number of people directly impacted and what it will do to damage homes as water begins to overtop the levees and fill in behind,” said Maj. Gen David Sprynczynatyk of North Dakota National Guard, who has been involved in flood response for 40 years, to the Minot Daily News.
On Wednesday, sirens sounded at 12:57 p.m. to warn citizens to immediately head for higher ground. The sirens mean that the water has breached the dikes in the city.
“It’s pretty ugly. We expect dikes to be overtopped, the river channel dikes, pretty much by 7 a.m. Thursday,” said Alan Schlag, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
But the flooding of the Souris River spells trouble beyond North Dakota. It has also threatened towns from Minnesota to Missouri, with the Missouri River also swelling.