Rural Cass County residents race to sandbag as rivers rise
WEST FARGO, N.D. - Paul Sanderson and his neighbors prepared for the unknown Sunday.
The resident of the Willow Creek subdivision west of West Fargo, N.D. worked with friends and family to stockpile eight pallets of sandbags in case they need reinforcements.
The neighborhood south of Interstate 94 hasn't had major flooding before, but this week it is expected to get floodwaters from both the Sheyenne and Maple rivers, said Cass County Engineer Keith Berndt.
A major concern is how much overland flooding the subdivision will get, Sanderson said.
"It's unprecedented times," Sanderson said, as his sons and their college friends filled and stacked sandbags. "I'm worried, but I'm not panicking."
Next door, more than 8,000 sandbags protect Warren Michaelsohn's home, and just as important, his hobby garage.
His crew had worked since Thursday night filling sandbags and was grateful when some sandbags from the Fargodome were sent to the residents.
"If they wouldn't have released those bags, we would have been in trouble," Michaelsohn said.
Elsewhere in Cass County, residents who haven't needed to sandbag before also are preparing their homes for record flooding.
"There will be water getting into areas that it hasn't gotten into before," Berndt said.
Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said the Coast Guard will be ready to assist with emergency rescues.
Cass County Road 17 had water flowing over it north of West Fargo on Sunday. Many township roads are washed out.
Berndt advises drivers to use caution, particularly at night, because the conditions can change in a hurry.
In Oliver County, authorities said all secondary roads were closed due to flooding. In Morton County, authorities advised no travel Sunday night in the western part of the county due to washed out roads. Officials in LaMoure and Mercer counties also advised no travel on township and county roads.
In eastern North Dakota, state officials closed state Highway 13 in the city of LaMoure to build a dike across the highway. State Highway 27, east of the junction of Highway 32 in Lisbon, also has been closed for construction of a dike.
Water on Interstate 94 between Tower City, N.D., and Oriska, N.D., caused some traffic delays Sunday.
Barnes County Sheriff Gene Bjerke urged sightseers to stay away.
"They're getting in the way," he said.
Just outside the city limits of Kindred, N.D., sump pumps are going off at least every minute at the home of Kevin McCarvel.
On Sunday, he was working on diverting the water from his two sump pumps away from the house adjacent to the Sheyenne.
"It's quite unnerving," McCarvel said of the water creeping closer to his property.
He's conceded that a small shed will be lost to the flood and has left the door open so water can flow through.
He and his wife, Angela, both work as nurses at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and McCarvel worries about not being at the house to monitor the pumps during their eight-hour shifts.
Their 2-year-old son, Jameson, and their dog are staying with family in Bismarck, possibly until the end of the month.
"You just don't put people into situations that aren't safe," McCarvel said.
In Valley City, N.D., residents of a neighborhood in the northeast part of town were asked Sunday to evacuate for the night after the National Guard discovered a possible breach in a dike.
Mayor Mary Lee Nielson said the Guard members patrolling the dike saw water bubbling on the edge of a dike.
Crews immediately repaired it, and officials went door to door to ask residents of the Swanke addition to leave.
"We're going to watch it very closely to make sure the fix holds," Nielson said.