Sheyenne continues to worry Davenport, Kindred
FARGO - For residents in the North Dakota communities of Kindred and Davenport, it's been a game of "hurry up and wait."
They've listened to the experts and the watershed engineers. They know the Sheyenne River - bloated by heavy rains and snowmelt from the Bald Hill Dam upstream - is heading their way with incredible force. It's already breaking out of its banks south of Kindred, where the runaway water has spread north and northwest, crossing State Highway 46 with such force that a culvert collapsed and forced the state Department of Transportation to close a large section of it.
The strength of the river also caused earthen dikes to collapse and threatened homes along the river, including the Brian Johnson residence near Kindred.
The water is lapping across many east-west roads, spilling out of drains and systematically filling farm fields like syrup filling waffle holes. Sometimes its progress is slowed by straw-clogged culverts and log jams; still, it always finds a way to move forward.
"It's coming mile by mile to meet us," says Jason Lotzer, mayor of Davenport, a close-knit community of 260 located about five miles northwest of Kindred.
But even as the floodwaters wreak havoc on many rural homes, they've left many parts of the area - including the two towns - untouched. It has residents worrying when the flood will reach full speed.
"That's the million-dollar question," says Sgt. Judy Tollefson of the Cass County Sheriff's Department.
At least the inhabitants of those two towns prepared diligently for the pending disaster. Committees banded together to discuss everything from alternative bus routes to building levees.
Davenport built a clay dike about 300 yards long on its west side. Kindred reinforced its earthen dike with sandbags and polyurethane. Army National Guardsmen arrived with 20,000 sandbags, says Kindred Mayor Bob Clarke.
Neighbors, Cass County sheriff's personnel, guardsmen, neighbors and the Davenport Volunteer Fire Department worked together to build ring dikes around farm yards south and west of town.
When the levee failed around the Johnson home, 75 volunteers from the two communities worked for hours to save the house.
But what will tomorrow bring? For now it's just a guessing game. A few brave souls have ventured to predict the worst of the flooding will strike by this evening. In this area, the river's level has stayed fairly stable - hovering around 21.2 feet. But it's not the river crest that scares people, it's how powerfully - and how soon - the overland floodwater will steamroll over all in its path.
"We're just waiting and watching," Lotzer says.