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ND flood woes decrease

Widespread destruction from the major flooding in North Dakota this week may have mostly been avoided due to improvements made since the devastating 1997 flood, said one state spokeperson.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | April 6, 2006

Widespread destruction from the major flooding in North Dakota this week may have mostly been avoided due to improvements made since the devastating 1997 flood, said one state spokeperson.

Officials won't know the exact amount of homes damaged by this week's flooding for a few days, but they remain optimistic about the overall impact.

"We won't know the exact number until the waters recede a little more," said Rick Robinson, spokesperson for the North Dakota Division of Emergency Services (NDDES). "We do know that our mitigation efforts and projects completed since the 1997 flooding and subsquent flooding have paid off."

Robinson said a series of new levees and diking systems helped divert water around some areas and move it more quickly through others. That does not mean, however, that some outlying isolated areas were not impacted. "There may be some isolated residences outside protected areas that have sustained damage," he explained. "But in the communities along the Red River, there are not significant amounts of damage."

The count earlier this week showed three homes destroyed by Red River Valley flooding in both North Dakota and Minnesota. While the water is receding in many areas, it did do millions of dollars in damage to roads and bridges. Residents in the North Dakota communities of Abercrombie, Harwood, Wahpeton, Grand Forks, Oslo, Drayton, Pembina and Willow City spent their week sand-bagging homes and neighborhoods.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was called into Grand Forks to shore up a weakening levee. Emergency levee repair was also done in Harwood and Lidgerwood.

Heavy rains and warm temperatures melting the snow caused the flood woes. The state's flooding projection is still at "major" for some communities in the upcoming days, but the weather is expected to cooperate for the upcoming weekend.

"We're not expecting any significant precipitation in the next few days," said Lynn Kennedy, senior hydrometeorological technician for the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks.

Kennedy said the Red River has crested in most communities in southern parts of the state. The northern areas of the Red River Valley are still cresting, though. "Our area of concern now is in the northern valley with all the tributaries of the Red River." Snow in those areas is still melting away, but Robinson said that will mostly be done by early next week.

For now, the NDDES is monitoring the situation along the valley and providing resources when necessary. "We're pre-positioning resources where they may be needed and making sure sandbags go where they're needed," said Robinson.


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