Nearly 12,000 residents of Minot, North Dakota were told to evacuate Wednesday due to heavy rains that have left the area flooded. This is the worst flooding Minot has seen in forty years. Warning sirens blared across the city Wednesday telling residents that they must leave their homes and take their valuables with them in order to avoid historic flood waters which have overflowed the sides of two local levees for the 2nd time in a month. Several other levees in and around Minot are not expected to hold. Secondary dikes are being constructed to help protect the city and volunteers are scrambling to fill and put sandbags into place to help save properties from the flood waters.
The North Dakota National Guard is on the scene in Minot checking homes to be sure that those who were ordered to leave did seek dry ground. The Guard members are also providing traffic control and levee patrol and they are also ready to step into action in case any flood-related emergency arises. Minot has a population of 41,000 people and the flooding in the city is set to pass the 1881 historical flood levels, so says the National Weather Service.
One fourth of the city of Minot’s residents faced a 6pm evacuation order but the warning was extended by five hours Wednesday so that people had time to remove items from their homes which they wanted to save. City work crews sandbagged key buildings before leaving as they did not want to leave City Hall and the city’s water treatment plant vulnerable to floodwater. Minot is located just 60 miles south of the Canadian border. The Souris River is inching toward the top of the dikes that protect neighborhoods in northwest Minot and the river is also threatening to breach dikes in other places in Minot.
Many homeowners living on the banks of the Souris river are fearful that their homes will be ripped off their foundations by the rising flood waters. Minot is currently in the midst of a housing crisis so worried homeowners have no idea where they will go if their homes are washed away by the flooding.
The mid-section of the U.S. has been wet for months as snow pack melts and heavy spring rains have swollen rivers from the Mississippi to the Missouri. The Souris river’s headwaters are in Canada and the river loops down into North Dakota before doubling back across the border. This is the 3rd consecutive year North Dakota has faced flooding. The capital city of Bismark was threatened by the Missouri River earlier this spring as was the city of Pierre, which is the capital of South Dakota.