Friday, June 24, 2011

Minot flood evacuations intensify as flood rages

Officials in Minot, N.D., say they've done all they can to protect sewer and water service from the flooding Souris River.

Mayor Curt Zimbelman said Thursday evening that dikes have been raised as much as possible around the city's sewer lift station and can't be raised any higher. Zimbelman says the city is confident the water plant is protected.

Officials expanded the city's evacuation zone earlier in the day to include about 400 more people, but say that advisory is voluntary. Some 10,000 people were evacuated earlier by order.

The Souris is trickling over dikes and levees in some parts of the city and stands several feet deep in some areas. But the highest water isn't expected until the weekend.

The flood outlook for North Dakota's fourth-largest city worsened Thursday, as accelerated releases from an upstream dam into the Souris River led officials to recommend more evacuations and close a major bridge.

As many as 10,000 residents were evacuated a day earlier from neighborhoods nearest the Souris, which cuts through the heart of Minot. It wasn't immediately clear how many more people were affected by Thursday's advisory.

National Guard Capt. Dan Murphy said officials were examining maps and planned to release more information at an afternoon news conference.

"The bottom line is they're just trying to get everybody out of the area where they think the property is going to be inundated," Murphy said. (read more)