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, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.
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The Red River may be cresting in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, and leveling off at Oslo, Minn. The National Weather Service on Monday lowered the possible crest level in Grand Forks-East Grand Forks to 45.7 feet, with the river level gradually dropping over the next several days. The river was at 45.7 feet Monday evening. The river gauge at the Sorlie Bridge actually showed readings of 45.99 feet over the weekend. But by 1:45 p.m., it showed 45.69 feet.
The Drayton Bridge over the Red River closed overnight Sunday. With the closing of the Drayton Bridge, only 4 bridges over the Red River remain open between the Canadian border and Fargo. They are: n N.D. Highway 200 (I-29 Exit 100) south of Hillsboro, N.D., to Halstad, Minn. n U.S. Highway 2 (Gateway Drive) in Grand Forks. n N.D. Highway 5, (Exit 203)at Joliette, N.D., to Minn. Highway 175, which leads to Hallock, Minn. n N.D. Highway 59 at Pembina, N.D. In Oslo, Minn., highway access from the east remains cut off, as water is flowing over Minn. Highway 1.
The National Weather Service cranked down its crest forecast again for the Red River in Grand Forks-East Grand Forks, pegging it this morning to not quite reach 46.5 feet by early Tuesday. On Saturday, the forecast was for 47 feet by Tuesday or Wednesday; on Friday the crest forecast was as high as 49 feet to be reached about Wednesday. The river's level Sunday afternoon slipped below 46 feet, which is major flood stage, to 45.72 by 7:30 p.m. Water lines on trees and along the river's edge appear to mark a slow decline.
The community of Oslo, Minn., has been cut off from the outside world again, as rising water forced the closing Saturday afternoon of Minnesota Highway 1, the last highway entrance into this town of 300 on the Red River. The road was closed at about 4:30 p.m., according to the Marshall County Sheriff's Department. The west entrance, across the Red from N.D. Highway 54, has been closed since Friday. Only local traffic is being allowed over the highway bridge over the Red River. At 7:15 p.m.
Two families in the Manvel, N.D., area were forced to sandbag their homes this weekend to keep rising floodwaters at bay. Brad and Brandy Chaffee, who live along Grand Forks County Road 18 east of Manvel, and Anita Hutton, who lives near the Turtle River north of Manvel, have not been forced from their homes, however, according to Manvel Fire Chief Steve Schumer. Family members helped to build sandbag protection at the Hutton residence. The Chaffee property is being affected by Red River runoff. The home is located between the Red and Interstate 29.
When the Thompson Bridge closed Friday morning, it left Grand Forks and Polk counties with just one Red River crossing. That won't be a problem in 2011 and beyond. A new Thompson Bridge, which will open late this summer or early fall, will be high and dry -- even if the Red River Valley experiences another epic flood like that of 1997. The bridge, which connects Grand Forks County Road 7 with Polk County State Aid Highway 9, carries about 1,110 vehicles a day, serving as a popular shortcut between Crookston and south Grand Forks and a heavily used agricultural route.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for northeastern Grand Forks County from Friday evening to 10 a.m. today. The Turtle River near Manvel, N.D., had risen about 3 feet Friday because of an ice jam downstream, the weather service said, and it may rise another 2 feet overnight. Many of the township and county roads east of Manvel to the Red River were closed, according to the county road map on the city of Grand Forks' Web site at www.grandforksgov.com (click on "2010 Flood Fight"). But that's usual for this annual time of high water, said Sgt.
Sen. Al Franken will visit Oslo, Minn., East Grand Forks and other flood-threatened cities in the Red River Valley and Minnesota today. The Democratic senator from Minnesota will meet with Oslo Mayor Florence Elden and other city officials this morning, to view flood-fighting efforts. The tour begins at 8:15 a.m. at Oslo City Hall. Franken then will visit East Grand Forks about 9:45 a.m.
Temporary levees were being built Wednesday in Grafton, N.D. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was working on the Fourth and Fifth Street entrances to Leistikow Park, as well as along the bank of the Park River west of town. Volunteers also were working to fill 7,000 sandbags for standby use around the community, said Walsh County Emergency Manager Brent Nelson. The Park River, which runs through the north end of the city on its way to the Red River, was just over 10 feet in the early evening Wednesday. The National Weather Service indicates it is likely to rise to 13 feet by Saturday.
OSLO, Minn. -- This island of flood-fighting fortitude is shifting into another gear in its seemingly annual battle against the Red River. Volunteers are being asked to show up at Oslo Fire Hall from 5 to 6 p.m. today to help fill sandbags. The community also is asking for volunteers to walk the ring dike that surrounds this town of 340 that experienced a record flood of 38.19 feet last year.