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Valley City builds ring dike around City Hall, police station

VALLEY CITY, N.D. - Valley City Mayor Mary Lee Nielson got a big surprise today when she showed up for work at City Hall: a tall wall of clay around the entire block.

Crews erected the ring dike overnight to protect City Hall and the law enforcement center from the record-high Sheyenne River, she said.

"They want to protect our 911 system, so lo and behold, when I got there this morning, there's a pile of dirt around City Hall," Nielson said, adding she knew officials were talking about building the dike but didn't know it would be erected by this morning.

"We're well protected now," she said.

The dike is about 4 to 5 feet high and 10 to 12 feet wide, she said.

The Sheyenne River in Valley City stood at 20.5 feet at 7 a.m., still a half-foot higher than the previous record set in 1882. The river topped out at 20.62 feet on Tuesday.

Nielson said evacuated residents shouldn't return to their homes, as the high water remains a threat and is expected to continue for 12 to 14 days.

"I think when some people heard 'the crest is over, the crest is over,' they decided they could come back to town," she said. "But the realistic part of it is the longer we have water on these dikes, the bigger chance something could happen."

Residents also are asked to curb water use, she said, noting Valley City public school faculty, staff and parents went door-to-door in the city on Thursday to inform residents about why reducing water use is important.

Valley City High School, which had planned to hold prom this weekend, postponed the event until later next month.