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Published April 15 2011

Flood 2011: Kindred could see ’09 water levels

KINDRED, N.D. – Officials cautioned rural residents living near here to brace for overland flooding similar to 2009 and said it could be weeks before the waters recede.

Officials from the Army Corps of Engineers and Cass County met Thursday night with more than 350 residents from Kindred and nearby Davenport to let the communities know what they can expect in the days ahead.

The information was especially important for residents after heightened flows from the Baldhill Dam put Valley City residents in a flood-fighting frenzy earlier this week when the river’s crest forecast rose suddenly by 2 feet.

Corps officials have been trying to manage flows out of Lake Ashtabula since October to ease the impact of spring floodwaters on communities along the Sheyenne, but it hasn’t been an easy task given the wet winter North Dakota had this year, said Col. Michael Price of the Army Corps.

Now, it’s that same kind of wet weather that’s making the immediate future a little hazier for Kindred and Davenport, he said.

Southeastern North Dakota was expected to get up to 6 inches of snow through today, and the moisture from that precipitation could potentially influence flood conditions along the Sheyenne.

The National Weather Service reported the Sheyenne River at Kindred was nearing its crest Thursday, around 21.15 feet as of 7 p.m. But that figure is deceptive because the rush of floodwaters won’t stop coming, said Chad Engels, an engineer with the Southeast Cass Water Resource District.

The river itself won’t continue rising, but that’s because the floodwaters are expanding outward overland near Kindred. That natural overflow began last Saturday once river flows exceeded 5,000 cubic feet per second, Engels said.

“In Kindred, you should prepare for the same elevations that you saw in 2009,” Engels cautioned. That year the Sheyenne River reached 21.55 feet, or the fourth highest on record at Kindred.

Corps officials predicted the river could stay at high levels for at least two weeks or more, as the peak flow of the Sheyenne River continues to move downstream.

For Davenport residents, the future is even hazier, because neither the timeline nor the magnitude of the overland flooding is predictable. It depends, in part, on how much flow in excess of 6,000 cfs actually hits Kindred – a figure officials will gauge by looking at flows upstream in Lisbon.

“That’s where the water is coming from,” Engels said. “How severe it’s going to be is a function of duration – how long it’s going to last. That’s the part that’s yet to be seen.”

Cass County Sheriff’s officials and North Dakota National Guard members will have an increased presence in Kindred to assist with any problems that might arise in the days and weeks ahead.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541