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Residents battle rising ND waters

Thousands evacuate homes as more sandbags are added to the levee

MINOT, N.D (UPI) | June 25, 2011

Workers in Minot, N.D., fought to build up dirt levees to keep out the rising Souris River, expected to crest after midnight Saturday, officials said.

But officials were worried the levees might not hold out a crest expected to last several days, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Levees had been built to about 6 feet above the Souris by Saturday morning beneath the Broadway Street Bridge, a main north and south artery.

Mayor Curt Zimbelman, looking at the rising water from the bridge, said, "I'm looking at these dikes right now and we're praying that we can hold at least this much water out."

The mayor said if the levees fail, thousands of more homes, several schools, a large nursing home and the bridge could be flooded, the Journal reported.

Some 12,000 people in the North Dakota city were displaced Saturday after the Souris River hit record flood levels a day earlier, officials said.

The Souris flows south of the border from Manitoba. The river was running 9 feet above normal levels, tying a record in 129 years of monitoring, KSFY-TV reported.

Friday, dikes and sandbags were breached and the Red Cross opened two emergency shelters. However, by Friday night, only 225 people checked in, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said.

"Family and friends, that is what has made the difference," Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., told a news conference. "You've got to salute the people of this community."

Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a statement encouraging support for the community.

"All state employees are free to leave their state employment to assist in the flood fight in Minot," he said.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald said several recreational vehicle parks had to relocate as ground water levels reached 6 feet.

The National Guard had 750 troops deployed in the town, most of whom were staying with residents who volunteered their homes, the reports said.

Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

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