- (Photo: Reuters/Allen Fredrickson)
The threat of more rain arriving on Saturday is causing extreme anxiety among all those caught up or affected by the massive Minot floods, with the local mayor saying the “scariest” thing now would be for a “rain event” to arrive.
As the flooding from the Souris River reached unprecedented levels on Friday, city officials and relief workers were on Saturday morning bracing themselves for the expected peak to arrive as early as Saturday evening; earlier than an earlier prediction of Sunday.
The flooding has risen more than four feet in the past 24 hours, and officials have said in some areas the river is expected to rise as much as six to seven feet higher throughout the weekend, but this could be made even worse if storms arrive.
At the moment, forecasters are reporting at least a 50:50 chance of there being at least some storms in the coming few days.
The Souris River, known locally as the “Mouse River,” is being fed by heavy rains further upstream as well as water released from Canadian reservoirs.
The flood was in full-destructive force on Friday, already flooding some 2,500 homes by early evening. About 11,000 people, or a quarter of Minot’s population, have been evacuated. By the time the river crests it is expected the number of homes flooded could rise to nearly 5,000.
The flood has already become the biggest in the history of Minot, breaking the 1881 record of 1,558 feet, and things are still expected to get worse throughout the weekend before they get better.
Minot Mayor, Curt Zimbelman said, “A rain event right now would change everything. That's the scariest.”
He added that currently two schools, a nursing home and hundreds of local businesses were in the immediate danger zone.
Over the past two days emergency workers have concentrated efforts on protecting water and sewer systems, in efforts to avoid the need for more evacuations. It is thought that although the water system is holding up well, the sewer treatment plant is under more stress.
According to AP, there are also concerns about the important north-south route across the Broadway Bridge. Levees protecting the northern approach, as well as the Minot State University, are reportedly being raised but the situation remains uncertain at best.
Another town to be hit in the valley is Burlington, where about half the 1,000 population has already been evacuated by Friday. Some houses in the town have reportedly been hit with flood waters reaching to the first floor and higher by Friday evening.
As the situation continues to change hour by hour, officials are keeping their eyes on the weather report and hoping that the worst will soon be over, and that the storms threatening the region will pass by.
However, as Saturday morning arrived the only thing stopping water from rising in many parts of Minot were man-made dikes, which may not withstand the fruther impact of any intense storms.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. said: “Nobody has even seen water levels at this dimension.”