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Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service, Published April 10 2014

AUDIO: Hwy. 81 near Minto closed due to flooding

MINTO, N.D. - U.S. Highway 81 is closed through Minto Thursday morning, the result of flooding caused by an ice jam on the Forest River.

The road was closed at about 3 a.m., approximately 90 minutes after water started threatening the road, according to Walsh County Emergency Manager Brent Nelson.

Barricades have been put in place and traffic has been detoured, according to a report from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

The ice jam is located at a BNSF railroad bridge in the southeast part of town, and just a short distance away from Highway 81.

About a dozen houses in that section of town had water in their yards, but as of 8 a.m., just one family had reported water in the basement. Local officials and volunteers distributed sandbags to the residents.

“The jam’s still there and levels are still rising,” Nelson said, adding that the only way to reach the jam is from the railroad bridge.

Officials are working with BNSF, to see if a railroad crane might be available to try to break the ice jam.

The Forest River was at 9.02 feet at 7:15 a.m. in Minto. Moderate flood stage is 8 feet, while major flood stage is 11 feet.

Meanwhile, sandbagging operations will begin at 9 a.m. in Grafton, N.D., he said.

Grafton High School students were being dismissed from classes to help sandbag two low spots in the city, the Fourth and Fifth street entrances to Leistikow Park.

NDDOT encourages travelers to call 511 or refer to the agency’s website at www.dot.nd.gov for up-to-date road information.