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Published April 17, 2009, 12:00 AM

Davenport residents get flood warning

DAVENPORT, N.D. – Residents of this small Cass County city were told Thursday to prepare for overland flooding from the Sheyenne River that could be worse than what was seen in 1997 and potentially could turn some farmsteads into islands for up to three weeks.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

DAVENPORT, N.D. – Residents of this small Cass County city were told Thursday to prepare for overland flooding from the Sheyenne River that could be worse than what was seen in 1997 and potentially could turn some farmsteads into islands for up to three weeks.

A clay levee will be built today on the southwest corner of the city to protect against water, likely to slide up on the town’s west side, perhaps by this weekend, said Mayor Jason Lotzer. Some sandbagging may also take place, he said.

A standing-room-only crowd of about 120 area residents jammed into the Davenport Community Center to hear Jeffry Volk, president and CEO of West Fargo’s Moore Engineering, describe the threat.

Volk expects the breakout water to start flowing heavily from the Sheyenne today and build in volume for several days – perhaps five times the volume seen Thursday.

“I’m concerned for them. We’re in an area no one has seen before,” Volk said. “I’m telling people 1997 was a guide to what we should be preparing for. I just think there are going to be larger problems.”

Volk said the initial “blast” of water will break out of the Sheyenne south of Kindred. In the past most of that water headed east, but this time, Volk said at least two-thirds of the initial flows are heading north and northwest, crossing State Highway 46 and marching section by section the five miles or so to Davenport.

While railroad tracks on the south side of Davenport should funnel the water around the town, if a drain under one of the tracks fails, water could also slosh over to the east side of town, Volk said. That area does have some flood protection, he said.

“Every day it’s going to ramp up worse” as the high water flowing through Lisbon makes its way to the breakout point, he said. “It’s going to come fast, I think.”

Volk said that once the water flows over County Road 16 on the north side of Davenport, he expects it will follow drains east and north to the Maple River.

Volk doesn’t think a great deal of work is needed to protect Davenport, but there could be much more work for rural residents, particularly south and west of the town, some of whom may have to ring-dike homes.

Rhonda and Mark Kuhn, who live just west of Kindred, have a horse boarding operation that is directly in the path of the water.

“We’re going to have a busy weekend,” said Mark Kuhn. “There’s more water involved here and it’s going to be a longer duration, for three weeks. That’s a lot of water.”

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney assured residents that if they need sandbags, Fargo and Moorhead have them available.

“We’ll do what we’ve got to do to get you the stuff,” Laney said.

Laney said residents who need to be evacuated should call (701) 241-5793.

School will be held in Davenport today, but next week will depend on the ability to move buses around the area, an official said.

Unlike other parts of the Red River Valley, the land slopes relatively quickly from Kindred to Davenport – roughly 22 feet.

Cass County Electric is running a call center at its offices that will help residents get in touch with the right agencies, and to check on them during the flood, said Mike Gustafson, the co-op’s former CEO.

That number is (701) 356-4615, he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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