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Pembina River flooding continues

A pick up truck drives south of Neche, N.D., on the flooded N.D. Highway 18 on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. The Pembina River was around 21.7 feet at noon. (Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg)

NECHE, N.D. -- Barbie DeSeyn stood on a temporary dike across Main Avenue, snapping a few pictures of her family business, Designer Care Co. Inc., which had become an island overnight Tuesday when the swollen Pembina River poured over N.D. Highway 18, surrounding this town of about 430.

The U.S.-Canada border crossing one mile north of Neche was closed all day today, and will remain shuttered until water no longer is rushing over the highway.

"We got an order out yesterday," DeSeyn said. "But not today."

Barbie and Jim DeSeyn (pronounced De-Sign') are distributors of disposable medical gloves, shipping cases of vinyl, latex and nitrile -- blue -- gloves throughout the United States. The company's biggest customer is Staples, the national office supply chain.

The Pembina River reached 21.74 feet at about 12:45 p.m. today. The National Weather Service indicates it may stay at about 21.7 feet for the next week, before gradually starting to recede.

The record crest is 24.51 feet in 1997. In 2009, it reached 21.61 feet.

Today, water overflowing the riverbank poured across fields and roads from Walhalla to Pembina, where the river meets the Red River. The Red, which was at 51.33 feet at Pembina early this afternoon, is expected to crest sometime next week between 53 and 54 feet.

Twelve soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard arrived in Neche about noon today, to help with dike patrols or other flood duty. Another dozen are on duty in Pembina.

The weather service has issued a flood warning until April 29 for Pembina County and for western Kittson County in Minnesota.

Until the flooding subsides, any future shipments from Designer Care will be hauled to a nearby farm that's not threatened by water, according to DeSeyn, in order to provide access to UPS.

Originally from Winnipeg, the DeSeyn family lives in the town of Neche, which is protected by a ring dike. When they built their business about 10 years ago, they located it just to the south of the dike.

"We built it a foot higher than the 500-foot flood, so we should be OK," she said, as her daughter, Christy, who serves as the company bookkeeper, approached the water from the other side.

"She got a ride on a 4X4 to get to work today. It seems like we're seeing floods almost every year," Barbie DeSeyn said. "But it's just a little inconvenience. This is a great town."

Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send e-mail to kbonham@gfherald.com.

Kevin Bonham

Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: www.grandforksherald.com. He welcomes story ideas via email, kbonham@gfherald.com, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.  

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