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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HENDRUM, Minn. -- The family of John and Dolores Aas, racing to add 3 feet of sandbags to the permanent dike that surrounds their house before the Wild Rice River rises another possible 4 feet by Thursday, got some unexpected help Tuesday. Eight employees of Shooting Star Casino-Hotel-Events Center down the road in Mahnomen, Minn., showed up in a van to give them a hand filling and placing 1,500 sandbags. "If we have to move out of the house this year, it'll be the fifth time since 1997," said John Aas, who observed his 84th birthday Tuesday.
As the Wild Rice River crest moves through Twin Valley and Ada, Minn., flood fighters are watching for overland flooding and turning some of their attention on points where the tributaries meet the rising Red River. "Right now, we're in between the two floods," Kevin Ruud, Norman County Emergency Management Director, said Monday. Overland flooding is a problem south and west of Ada, however. The Wild Rice River rose past 25 feet Monday at Hendrum, Minn., and is expected to crest by the weekend at about major flood stage of 32 feet.
The Red River is expected to reach between 47 and 49 feet next week in Grand Forks-East Grand Forks, perhaps as early as Monday or Tuesday. The river passed the 28-foot flood stage early Monday. As of Monday evening, the Red was at 31.37 feet in GF-EGF. The quick river rise this weekend triggered the start of some flood-prevention measures in the area Monday. In East Grand Forks, crews began gathering materials to close the floodwall along the East Grand Forks downtown boardwalk.
Like most of their neighbors along on Lake Drive, Steve and Teresa Wasvick invested in major flood protection after the flood of 2009, when hundreds of volunteers helped to save 20 or more homes overlooking a coulee adjacent to the Red River. For many in this picturesque rural Grand Forks neighborhood, it was the second time they've built permanent walls, dikes or other structures since 2006. And they hope it's the last. "Hopefully, this year's flood is a non-event," Steve Wasvick said.
Grand Forks County will supply empty sandbags to county residents this spring -- at the county highway shop, at the Grand Forks City Public Works Department, and at several other sites around the county. The operation isn't in full gear yet. That will happen after water starts rising in the Red River and the National Weather Service begins issuing river crest forecasts. It's part of a new county flood policy, which states that the county will provide only empty sandbags -- not sand -- as its standard procedure.
The North Dakota State Water Commission has approved a $7.1 million funding request for a $42 million Park River Flood Control Project in Grafton, N.D. Grafton is located along the Park River, a tributary of the Red River. Recurrent flooding along the south branch and main stem of the river has caused challenges for the community, which is located in the 100-year floodplain.
Like the oil gushing out of the Bakken Formation in western North Dakota, the number of oil rigs actively drilling is soaring to new heights. North Dakota had 102 oil rigs drilling Wednesday, after hitting 100 on Monday for the first time in decades. "It's quite a milestone. It's been 28 years since we were over 100 rigs," said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division.
Chris Laveau and some of his colleagues pulled a barnacle out of the Red River on Wednesday. But it's no one-eyed crustacean. It's a hydrologic instrument that measures the velocity of the water, through the use of an acoustic Doppler velocity meter mounted in the device. "The ADVM is like an eyeball in the barnacle," said Laveau, a hydrologist with the U.S.
OSLO, Minn. -- As the warming March sun created puddles of melted snow on Main Street in Oslo this past week, a couple of people left their pickup windows open while they stopped for lunch at the Oslo cafe or for a few items at the local grocery. "I'm seeing smiles on a lot of faces," said Jane Bushaw, cashier at Kosmatka's Market. "We need a break from winter." Last year's record spring flood turned Oslo, a town of 340 on the Red River 20 miles north of Grand Forks, into an island for about six weeks.
HILLSBORO, N.D. -- As flood volunteers in Traill County prepare for their annual spring water battle, they're vowing to get tougher on people who do little or nothing to help themselves prevent flood damage. This spring, people who request help to sandbag around their homes not only will have to register, they'll be asked to move snowpiles away from the house in advance of the help arriving.