They call it the Souris in Canada, the Mouse in North Dakota, and it’s having the biggest flood in recorded history this Spring and Summer. A couple of weeks ago, the city of Minot seemed to have been spared because of heroic efforts to add clay to the top of the dikes that line the river. With 4-6 inches of rain falling earlier this week in Saskatchewan, and heading down the river, the dams that protect Minot are all full and releasing tremendous amounts of water.
“What’s happening here,” explained [Weather Service hydrologist] Schlag, “is that the Souris has finally gone so far out of its banks that we are seeing significant flow short-circuiting the normal meandering course of the river. It is now wall-to-wall throughout the valley and is traveling in a straight line.”
Over one-quarter of Minot’s 41,000 residents have now been evacuated, and all they can do now is watch their houses fill up with water.
When you hear “North Dakota flood”, you might think about Fargo and the Red River valley, which floods regularly. This is a different place — Minot had a major flood in 1969 and built a series of levees that protected the city for more than 40 years. This is the first flood since then, and the river is 8 feet higher than any level recorded in 130 years. To put the recent 4-6 inch rainfall in perspective, that part of the country normally gets 15-18 inches of rain per year.
Reader Robert, who lives in the area, sent some good links to area resources. The Minot Red Cross is taking donations here. The KX network station in Minot is broadcasting around the clock and has many of its viewers sending updates to its Facebook page. Robert is OK, and I have family members who evacuated on Wednesday, and they’re OK, too, so thankfully this is just about people losing property, not lives.