Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flood Concerns Continue in Dakotas

A home in Minot, North Dakota, is overwhelmed by floodwaters from the Souris, or Mouse, River.
Photo: Courtesy of ND Dept. of Emergency Management

By Rev. Lee Gale

In my capacity as disaster response coordinator covering North Dakota for the Dakotas Annual Conference, I went to Bismarck, the capital, and nearby Mandan this week to see what the mighty Missouri River is capable of. Both the Missouri and the Souris, or Mouse, River are swollen with rainwater and melting snowpack, as they overrun their banks and cause massive flooding.

I learned that the pressure from the release from Garrison Dam has deepened the channel, and the Missouri’s current is very strong. Also, the river is changing its course, which may put more property at risk. There is a large area of Bismarck that has the potential for flooding should the dikes break.

Bismarck is now a city of contrast. In one section, floodwaters lap against homes, causing a great deal of concern on the part of the homeowner, while a few blocks away, another person’s greatest worry may be how low to cut the grass. It's a definite contrast in the same city. This year’s flooding will be a long-term issue for Bismarck/Mandan as it will be, also, for the communities down river.

On the Souris River, the town of Minot is seeing flooding it hasn't seen since 1889. Right now there are some 600 homes that will most likely need to be destroyed, as the high water level in them will remain way too long for them to be structurally saved. The water is slowly going down, but the possibilities of additional rain in the area and in Canada upstream continue to cause great concern.

The Dakotas Conference is partnering with other organizations to prepare for cleanup when that time comes. I have contacted UMCOR to put out a call for Early Response Teams that may be able to bless us with their volunteers when the green light is given to enter these areas. Any team that is interested can please call our Conference Office at 605-996-6552. We will compile the necessary information so that those willing to come to North Dakota may be contacted on a timely basis.

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