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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 18 2011

Sheyenne River flooding swamps several Barnes County homes

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – Several Barnes County homes have been lost to Sheyenne River flooding, even as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cutting back releases from Baldhill Dam, officials said today.

Seven homes are under water and eight families are still holding out in homes surrounded by water, said Julie Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Barnes County Emergency Operations Center.

About 19 rural families have moved out of their homes, she said, though it’s not known how many of those homes have been touched by floodwaters.

Altogether, 62 families have moved out of their homes in Valley City or out in the county due to issues tied to flooding, such as limited access due to levee construction, Nelson said.

Eleven homes in the Woodland Park area are also a concern, Nelson said.

Residents who may have to leave their homes are urged to call the flood hotline at (701) 845-0770, Nelson said.

About 50,000 of the 150,000 sandbags sold by Fargo to Barnes County have been used, she said.

Nelson said the National Guard presence in town was to be reduced today from 240 to 160, according to briefing materials.

Releases from the Baldhill Dam were lowered from 7,000 cubic feet per second to 6,500 cfs this morning, said Shannon Bauer, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Bauer said the lower releases should drop the river from 3 to 6 inches in the next day.

The corps had said late last week that it would increase the flow from Baldhill to 7,500 cfs.

Bauer said the corps is also done with most of the work on Valley City’s levees.

She said downstream in Lisbon, work being done to bring the levees to 24.5 feet will be completed today.

Lisbon Mayor Ross Cole said that should protect the city from a 22.5 crest.

Cole said 16,000 sandbags were filled or obtained from other areas this weekend, with a goal of having 20,000 sandbags on hand for emergencies.

Valley City and Lisbon residents are being asked to limit the use of water to reduce the stress on sanitary sewer systems.

Cole is confident Lisbon will be able to handle the high water.

“We’ve been here before. Every time you have a new crest, it seems we learn a lot,” he said. “It’s the third year in a row, so we should be getting good at it.”

The National Guard is controlling traffic and helping with dike patrol in Lisbon, while residents are keeping track of the pumps, he said. A Guard quick response unit is also being brought in.

If there is a worry, Cole said, it’s the length of the crest, expected to be about 10 days.

Valley City and Barnes County residents who haven’t signed up for the Code Red warning system, or who haven’t updated their contact information in a while, are encouraged to do so, Nelson said.

People are asked to call (701) 845-3110 to update their Code Red status.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583