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Published April 26 2011

Kindred-area residents adjust to river breakouts

KINDRED, N.D. - Between the beavers trying to cut down their mailbox, the fish swimming around their legs and the tractor rides through 5 feet of water, life near the flooding Sheyenne River is an adventure for the David Rostad family these days.

“But it’s only for like two months,” said Rostad, a retired dentist – and, apparently, eternal optimist.

It’s tough to find the bright side of the Sheyenne River breakouts inundating and washing out roads in the Kindred and Davenport areas.

But locals said Monday they were standing firm against the floodwaters, buoyed by the crest and – at Rostad’s place 150 yards from the Sheyenne, a slight drop – in the water level.

“It’s isn’t going up, so we’re holding our own,” Davenport Mayor Larry Palluck said.

Rostad’s farmstead about two miles southeast of Kindred is an island, accessible only by boat or tractor.

Weekday mornings, he drives a big John Deere through the flooded farmyard and down a gravel road about three-quarters of a mile to reach the intersection where his son Philip’s car is parked so he can drive to school. They had been walking the stretch in chest waders, but it’s too dangerous now that the fast-moving water has reached 5 feet deep in some places, Rostad said.

In 2009, the family lived this way for two months, finally able to drive out of the farmyard on Mother’s Day.

On Sunday, the water crested about a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch higher than in 2009, based on a mark Rostad notched on the barn. It had dropped by about an inch by late Monday morning, he said.

Water hadn’t touched the sandbag dike protecting the house, and two sump pumps were keeping the basement dry.

“As long as we’re dry and the house is dry, we’re content,” Rostad said.

Buses rerouted

A number of Kindred Public Schools students must walk through water or use a boat on their way to school, Superintendent Steve Hall said.

The school district adjusted seven of its eight bus routes to circumvent flooded roads, perhaps none a bigger hassle than State Highway 46, which closed west of Kindred on Sunday. County Road 16 just west of Davenport, which houses the district’s kindergarteners and first-graders, also closed Monday because of water flowing across the road.

“It’s all around us,” Hall said, noting the closures added at least 20 miles to one route.

School officials expect flooded roads and washouts will reroute buses until the end of the year.

“We feel very comfortable about getting to the areas that we need to,” Hall said. “I don’t know that it’s going to get worse than it is right now.”

Fluid situation

Hall was encouraged that the Sheyenne River flow at Lisbon, which takes about two days to reach Kindred, was slowly on the way down and expected to drop to within a foot of major flood stage by Saturday after reaching more than 2.6 feet above major flood stage last Wednesday.

In Davenport, Palluck said the water’s rise leveled off after a railroad crew removed a section of track to allow water to pass through, easing pressure on the city’s dikes. He said he hadn’t heard of any homes in the Davenport area damaged by water.

“As long as it keeps running away to the north, we’ll be OK,” he said.

Still, officials urged residents and motorists to remain vigilant as water levels changed rapidly.

Cass County Sgt. Mitch Burris said the sheriff’s office received numerous calls from people trying to figure out alternate routes to the closed section of Highway 46. Officials didn’t designate an official detour because of uncertainty about which roads would be under water, he said.

“This is an hour-by-hour call,” he said. “We’re telling everyone: Just because the road’s not closed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise caution.”

Burris asked that motorists alert the sheriff’s office and turn around if they encounter water on a road that’s not barricaded.

Rostad figured his family has at least a few weeks of flood-altered life left this spring, which means his wife, Cheryl, will continue to teach piano lessons at Kindred Lutheran Church instead of at home.

“It’s gotten to the point where after three years in a row, we’re kind of used to it,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528