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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 20 2011

Barnes County residents keep an eye on forecast calling for rain

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – City and rural Barnes County residents have gotten a bit of relief with the Sheyenne River dipping to 19.91 feet this morning, but the potential for up to three-quarters of an inch or more of rain could still bounce river levels to a record 21 feet by Sunday, officials said.

Officials also recommend residents travel no more than 35 mph on all rural roads, especially gravel roads, a county emergency operations spokeswoman said.

Residents are also being warned to stay off levees by Valley City Police Chief Dean Ross.

Meanwhile, in Lisbon, the National Guard announced that on Tuesday it used a large, tracked hydraulic excavator to place 1-ton sandbags to reinforce the river side of an eroding levee.

Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing 6,410 cubic feet per second of water out of Lake Ashtabula through Baldhill Dam, said Mary Senger.

Senger, Burleigh County emergency manager, is assisting Barnes County in its emergency operations center, she said.

The corps is trying to determine whether releases can be dropped to 6,000 cfs. That decision will be made this afternoon, Senger said.

Lower releases from Baldhill could be a big help in keeping river levels from bouncing too high with rainfall or increased snowmelt.

The National Weather Service predicts a half-inch to three-quarters inch of rain Thursday into Friday for the Sheyenne River Basin, Senger said.

The levees are holding up well in Valley City and Barnes County, the corps reports.

Today, there are 44 people reported displaced from their homes by the flood in Valley City, and 26 in the county, Senger said.

In Lisbon, the Fire Department filled the 1-ton sandbags and transported them to where the levee needed shoring up, the Guard reported.

About 40 guardsmen are on duty in Lisbon for the flood fight.