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Linton, N.D., aims to avoid a repeat of 2009 flooding

LINTON, N.D. -- Beaver Creek offered no warning to the people of Linton and Emmons County last spring that it would spring from its banks like never before and forever change the community.

LINTON, N.D. -- Beaver Creek offered no warning to the people of Linton and Emmons County last spring that it would spring from its banks like never before and forever change the community.

But out of the disaster, the community hopes some good will come. Since the waters receded, the people of Emmons County have worked to prepare themselves for future problems and to strengthen the community and its economy.

Days after the Linton Lions boys basketball team captured the state championship in March 2009, the community reached a different high -- Beaver Creek, which flows east to west through Old Town, south of U.S. Highway 83 in Linton, reached an all-time high crest of 18.83 feet March 24.

The community endured two later storms that dropped more than 20 inches of snow, plus a second crest on the creek, at 14.96 feet April 13, before the water went down for good.

As the town cleaned up, local, state and federal departments formed the Linton/Emmons County flood recovery task force, which works on recovering from the 2009 flood and planning for the future, said Sharon Jangula, coordinator of the task force and the Linton Industrial Development Corp.


The task force is coordinating the acquisition of 22 properties in the county along or on the border of the floodway. Several homes already have been demolished because of damage, and three are awaiting a similar fate once weather allows, Jangula said. People are living in some of the repaired homes pending Federal Emergency Management Agency approval of the buyouts.

Mary Senger, the emergency manager for Burleigh and Emmons counties, said the task force also is working on a flood response plan based on information from previous floods. The plan will encompass who does what in case of a flood and what needs to happen as the creek rises to certain levels.

Officials plan to use information from the Army Corps of Engineers and the State Water Commission to determine placement of temporary levees to reduce future flood damage, she said.

In response to last year's events, the National Weather Service will begin forecasting on Beaver Creek near Linton. Hydrologist Allen Schlag said officials did some "off-the-cuff" forecasting last year to help out. Now, the service will use historical data, moisture amounts and current river levels to forecast flooding on the creek.

Forecasting will provide flood-fighting tools and enable the community to implement its flood response plan, Senger said.

"They will be able to look at the information and decide for themselves what is an acceptable risk for them," she said.

The weather service already has some preliminary projections for Beaver Creek, and things look good so far. A late January forecast puts the chances for major flooding at 10 percent.

After last year, people will remain worried regardless, Jangula said.


Linton continues looking for ways to strengthen the community.

Mohall, N.D.-based Midwest Teleservices International Inc., which had planned to move into the closed American Express Business Travel Center building, opened in another location after the building flooded, Jangula said. H&R Block, which also had been in the building, also found a new location.

Finding new commercial spaces to make up for those lost to flooding will be important, Jangula said.

"We're working on a number of things that will ensure our long-term economic vitality," she said.

Jangula said the community hopes to develop a new housing subdivision, for homes moved from Old Town and new homes. To make up for appraisal values of new homes being less than it costs to build them, the city has offered free lots and two-year property tax exemptions.

In the past year, three new homes have been built, two of which were directly related to last year's flooding, Jangula said.

"It had been a considerable amount of time since a new home had been built in Linton," she said.

As the community looks toward spring, Jangula doubts the lessons learned in 2009 will be lost.


"I don't think they'll forget that one any time soon," she said. "I'm just hoping that we'll be prepared should something like that happen again."

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