Wednesday, June 22, 2011

North Dakota residents told to evacuate ahead of "historic" flooding

Residents in Minot, North Dakota, have until Wednesday evening to leave their homes after authorities ordered the evacuation of some 12,000 people from the area because of expected record flooding.

Minot, located in the north-central part of the state, is the fourth-largest city in North Dakota.

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The swollen Souris River flows straight through the city and is expected to overwhelm area levees, said Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

"It's really historic proportions of water," Fong said late Tuesday night.

The evacuation order covers a third of the community's population, Fong said. Residents have until 6 p.m. Wednesday to leave.

"The river is rising faster than expectations, so they (city officials) are kind of scrambling to shore up levees and do what they can," Fong said.

The National Weather Service has forecast record flooding and urged anyone living in the affected areas to prepare immediately for oncoming floodwaters. Heavy area rains and dam releases are causing the river to swell at Minot.

"The current best estimate for when water will overtop the lowest dikes in the Minot area is sometime on Thursday afternoon. However, a Wednesday night or early Thursday timeframe cannot be ruled out as the dikes become more stressed due to rising water," the weather service said. (read more)