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Lisbon calls for more sandbaggers

Lisbon resident Charlie Anderson looks over the earthen and sandbag dike protecting her home along the Sheyenne River. Anderson was informed that her home will be on the river side of the contingency dike that will be constructed later this week. (David Samson/The Forum)1 / 2
National Guard members look over the flooded Sheyenne River at the Fifth Avenue bridge in Lisbon. (David Samson/The Forum)2 / 2

LISBON, N.D. - Two City Council members paid Charlie Anderson a visit Tuesday afternoon with unsettling news: Contingency dikes would be going up along Harris Street here Thursday, and her home near the swollen Sheyenne River would be on the "wet side."

The night before, after discussions with Army Corps of Engineers representatives in town, city officials decided to prepare for a river crest of 23 feet - a foot higher than the current National Weather Service forecast.

"That's the first time I got really nervous," Anderson said about the contingency dike news. "That really hit home."

The latest projection kicked off an effort Tuesday to raise most of Lisbon's roughly 3.3 miles of dikes by another foot. City officials also decided to put up Hesco barriers along Harris and advised the residents of about 20 homes on the river side of the planned contingency dikes to consider evacuating.

"It's not that we're giving up on anybody," said Mayor Ross Cole. "It's just to protect the rest of the city."

City officials are bracing for the

23-foot crest by Wednesday or Thursday of next week based on recent precipitation downstream and the possibility of more rain this weekend. The National Weather Service forecasts a crest just shy of 22 feet this Thursday.

"They don't want to be caught come Monday or Tuesday with, 'We're looking at 23 feet,' " said Ransom County Public Information Officer Bruce Dougherty about the discrepancy.

The city already raised its dikes by 3 feet before a record peak of almost 20 feet last month, which Lisbon weathered mostly unscathed. On Tuesday, the river reached almost 21 feet, submerging the city's Fifth Avenue bridge for the first time.

"It was like getting hit over the head with a baseball bat," Cole said of the latest projection.

The city is asking residents to limit water use as the Lisbon lift station struggles to keep up. The Ransom County Sheriff's Department also advised no travel on gravel roads.

City Council members Jerry Gemar and Walt Johnson filled in Anderson and her neighbors about the contingency dikes.

"Nobody's beat us up yet," Johnson said. "Everybody's taking it really well."

Missy and Nathan Toyne were already moving photos, scrapbooks, clothes and some furniture into a trailer on Tuesday. Their three children would be staying with their grandmother.

"It's a sacrifice," Missy said of the contingency dikes, "but if it saves somebody else's house, they have to do it."