Rising flood risk heightens tension in rural Cass County
Cass County agencies have been collaborating for months to prepare for possible flood events in rural areas of Cass County that could be hit hard.
KINDRED, N.D. — Piles of late-season snow and persistent cold weather have increased the flood risk in the Red River Valley , leaving rural communities in Cass County in a vulnerable spot.
Cass County Engineer Jason Benson told The Forum those rural areas could experience a flood impact similar to 2019.
“They should expect major flooding,” he said.
Nearby residents gathered in Kindred High School on Wednesday, March 29, to learn the scope of what homeowners could be facing in just a few weeks.
Rural communities risk becoming surrounded by rising flood waters and being cut off as roads wash out, Benson said.
As for what's in store this year, no one will really know until snow starts melting. Peak flooding is anticipated to occur from April 10-17 along the Red River and Maple River, and from April 18-24 along the Sheyenne River.
Cass County officials in attendance Wednesday helped inform community members like Oscar Tronnes on the flood outlook and address any concerns.
Tronnes said he lives nearby and came out with his family to learn “how high the waters are going to be.”
The Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project is still under construction, so residents have not yet reaped all of its expected benefits.
“Last year it was ugly,” Tronnes said. “Never seen it that bad.”
The work of Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner last year was a lifesaver to the community, he added.
Kindred’s Fire Chief Rich Schock said first responders have been coordinating with other agencies for months to make the work and communication more streamlined once the action starts.
Last year Schock and his team were wading through chest deep water in a basement to help a resident’s home. “It gets to be daunting,” he said.
Kindred Mayor Darrell Kersting told The Forum that the city has been closely monitoring river levels. While the city itself hasn’t seen any major flooding in his 33 years living there, the city stays prepared to assist the surrounding community.
“There's just so many unknowns,” Kersting said, noting it’s not too early to start planning for worst case scenarios.
The Cass County Sheriff’s office is also fine-tuning their response, with access to 35 patrol vehicles and reserve emergency response teams, two rescue boats, two ATV’s, one UTV and two snowmobiles.
Should the situation require it, airboat and rescue response teams will be on call and ready to respond, dispatched from the county’s tactical operations center (TOC). The center can remain open 24/7 when flood conditions require it.
A flood hotline is also available at 701-241-8000. Residents can call for anything from emergency sandbags to law enforcement assistance.
“We’ve been fighting floods since 2009 together,” Benson said, adding interagency collaboration helps everyone in Cass County respond full force to any situation. “So it's a great collaboration between all of our departments," he said.
For now, residents should start thinking about what they need to do to prepare, Benson said. Consider if you need sandbags for your property, monitor your ring levees and culverts, and get flood supplies such as generators and pumps.
“If you’re new and you haven’t experienced a flood, reach out to your neighbors,” Benson added.
Residents can visit the county website for more information and useful tools .
Sandbags can also be ordered on Cass County’s website , and are available to purchase in bundles of 1,000 for $100. Ten cubic yards of sand will also be delivered for free.
Cass County is hosting another informational flood meeting on Thursday at the Harwood Community Center, 210 Freedland Drive, from 7 to 8 p.m.
Both long-time flood fighters and residents going through their first flood are encouraged to come out to Harwood and ask questions, Benson said.