Forest River flooding closes roads in part of northeast North Dakota

Highway 81 is closed from Minto to North Dakota Highway 17 in Grafton.

Forest River flooding.jpg
Crews pile sandbags in Forest River, North Dakota, late on Sunday, April 17.
Contributed / Minto Rural Volunteer Emergency Services Department

MINTO, N.D. — As of early Monday morning, April 17, the Forest River has overtopped U.S. Highway 81 in Minto. Highway 81 is closed from Minto to North Dakota Highway 17 in Grafton. There are also signs in Manvel, North Dakota, warning of the road closure in Minto.

Crews worked overnight to contain flooding in Forest River and Minto, said Brent Nelson, Walsh County emergency manager. On Sunday night, crews from the Minto Rural Volunteer Emergency Services Department, Grafton Volunteer Fire Department, Gilby Fire Department and Walsh County Sheriff’s Office placed sandbags in Forest River before moving to Minto early Monday morning to protect houses closer to the river.

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On Monday around 9:30 a.m., crews were placing sandbags at some houses farther from the river and reinforcing sandbag embankments along the river. Nelson said the river in Minto rose more than initially anticipated.

“It’s been one of those years where everything is so full of snow and ice, and water is having trouble moving and going anywhere, so it's backing up and then it’s rushing in great amounts,” Nelson said.

In the National Weather Service Flood Outlook issued March 23, the Forest River at Minto was projected to crest between 5.7 and 7.2 feet, with minor flooding in Minto starting at 6 feet. According to a river gauge reading on Monday at 8:15 a.m., the river had reached 9.24 feet with a crest projected at 9.5 feet.


Moderate flooding in Minto begins at 8 feet and major flooding starts at 11 feet. Highway 81 is underwater at 7.5 feet.

Nelson said main roads that are flooded are well marked, but some gravel and township roads may not have signs. People who come across an unmarked flooded road should notify the Walsh County Sheriff’s Department at 701-352-2041.

Flooded roads contributed to a fatal crash in the region over the weekend. On Sunday morning, a woman died near Mylo, North Dakota in Rolette County after her vehicle veered into a flooded ditch while driving on a flooded North Dakota Highway 66.

Keep up to date with North Dakota and Minnesota road conditions at and .

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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