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Published April 14, 2009, 12:00 AM

Watching, waiting: Rural Cass County ‘as well prepared as we can be’

Steve Cavett refers to water coming up in the yard of his Cass County home as “Lake West Fargo.”

By: J. Shane Mercer, INFORUM

Steve Cavett refers to water coming up in the yard of his Cass County home as “Lake West Fargo.”

“A lot of people pay good money for that kind of property,” he joked.

Cavett, who lives on 40th Avenue, north of West Fargo, was out Monday boating in areas that aren’t normally covered by water.

He’s not worried about his own property, which gets water from both the Sheyenne and Maple rivers. Even in the 1997 flood, the place didn’t need to be sandbagged.

Not everyone is so lucky. Cass County Engineer Keith Berndt said more than 3 million sandbags have gone out to rural residents.

Water from several rivers has soaked rural Cass County. And with the Sheyenne continuing to rise, Berndt said, “We’re feeling like we’re as well prepared as we can be for that.”

Driving along County Highway 22, much of the farmland looks like lake property stretching into the distance.

“It was flowing over the road probably this deep,” Berndt said, gesturing with his hands several inches apart.

Some of the shoulder along the road had been cut away. In the end, the price tag for damage to county roads will be in the “many millions” of dollars, Berndt said.

It’s one striking scene after another in these flood-soaked areas of the county. Brightly colored children’s play equipment is surrounded by water at one home hear Highway 17. A canoe rests by the road at Sunrise Acres, and cars are parked along the highway separated from homes by floodwaters. Ducks swim in a field near Highway 20.

Most days Berndt takes this sort of county tour. County Commissioner Scott Wagner joins him fairly frequently.

“I’m a public servant, and I just feel that’s a part of public service,” Wagner says. “When you sign up and you run for public office and you have a crisis and you have something like this going on, I think you need to be out there.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734