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Volunteers help with sandbagging efforts as Tongue River rises in Cavalier

As many as 100 people came to help in the northeast North Dakota community.

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Jack Gunderson stacks a sandbag on a pallet in Cavalier on Sunday, May 1, 2022, as volunteers fill sandbags after recent rains caused flooding in the region.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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CAVALIER, N.D. — Residents of Cavalier and volunteers from the region worked Sunday to fill and place sandbags as the nearby Tongue River rapidly rose, prompting the community’s mayor to request some residents evacuate their homes.

At least one resident says Cavalier hasn’t seen flooding like this in almost a decade.

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Thousands of sandbags are stacked on pallets at the Pembina County Shop in Cavalier and ready for distribution if the flooding Tongue River rises.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Volunteers in and around Cavalier met at the county shop to fill sandbags, with some of those sandbags placed around Country-Estates Senior Living. Volunteers wrapped up making sandbags Sunday at 7 p.m.; sandbagging may resume Monday morning, but it will be determined at that time.

Curt Kirking, the owner of Cavalier Bean Co., estimated at least 100 people were assisting with sandbagging at Country Estates on Sunday. Derek Kiemele, who grew up in Cavalier and spent time helping sandbag, said people from towns nearby came to help with sandbagging efforts throughout the day.

“Right away starting the day it was mostly local people, but then when we were doing the Estates, Walhalla Fire Department and a bunch of other people [showed up],” He said.

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Kiemele said he hasn’t seen flooding in Cavalier like this since 2013. According to the National Weather Service, Cavalier received between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain over a 48-hour period that began Friday. Other areas just to the west and south of Cavalier saw upwards of 3 inches, according to the NWS. It comes after a wet April.

Travis Kennebeck and Arinze Uzo-Okereke, both stationed at the Cavalier Space Force Base, said they had been assisting with sandbagging since 5 p.m. Sunday.

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Orange flags mark a flooded driveway west of Cavalier, N.D., as a pickup drives to ND Highway 5 Sunday, May 1, 2022.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

“Today we got the call from the sheriff and the mayor saying they needed more help so we wanted to come out and help,” Kennebeck said.

Kennebeck said the base’s fire department also had been helping with sandbag efforts.

On Sunday afternoon, the mayor of Cavalier, Lacey Hinkle, issued a voluntary evacuation notice for a section of the city.

Sunday, a note on social media by the Pembina County Sheriff's Office said excessive rainfall in Cavalier — a town of 1,100 residents, 82 miles northwest of Grand Forks — was causing flooding in certain portions of town, including River Street, the south end of Bjornson Drive, Milana Drive and Madison Street.

Those areas "will become inundated, and residents may be unable to leave due to flooded streets," the release said.

As a precaution, Mayor Hinkle "is requesting that all citizens in those areas evacuate. ... Please gather your essential belongings and leave now."

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The statement urged residents to be out by 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Tongue River had reached 20.5 feet as of 6 p.m.

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Rising floodwaters are shown in this photo taken over the weekend near Cavalier, North Dakota.
Submitted / Brandon Corbett
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The project assesses the natural hazards that pose a risk to the county — such as tornadoes, straight line winds, ice storms, blizzards, wildfires, flooding and extreme temperatures — and identifies ways to minimize the damage from those natural hazards in the future.

Related Topics: FLOODING
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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