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Weekend storms washed out hundreds of roads, will take millions to repair

Due to supply shortages some roads may take at least a year to repair.

Weekend flash flooding washed away a large chunk of Clearwater Lake Road in Clearwater County, Minnesota.
Contributed / Bruce Emmel
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MAYVILLE, N.D. — One word came to mind for Ben Gates as he surveyed a washout near Mayville.

"Massive, in one word," said the emergency management leader for Steele and Traill Counties.

"This is a lot of money that's now in the field. It's in the drains, it's in the ditches, that they can't reclaim back," he said.

Gates says a combination of 6 inches of rain in some areas, on top of 18 inches of snow, caused at least 100 county roads to wash out. Officials are still counting township roads, so that number is expected to be even higher.

"We're looking at $3 million total between the two counties," Gates said.


In Minnesota's Clearwater County, a large chunk was washed out on Clearwater Lake Road due to the flash flooding. It's one of 50 roads that washed out.

"I thought we were going to luck out this year," said Clearwater County Engineer Dan Sauve.

Fixing some of the roads in the region may take a while due to supply shortages like steel and cement box culverts.

"Ordering one today, it's not going to arrive until next year," explained Sauve.

While Mother Nature flooded the county with destruction, she has helped with a cooler-than-usual spring.

"Luckily the roads are still frozen. We wouldn't be able to haul down those gravel roads," said Sauve.

A weekend flood that will flood small town highway departments with work well into the summer. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz have asked President Joe Biden to sign a disaster declaration. That would provide federal funding for the road repairs.

"It's definitely going to take a long time to get these fixed. Months — up to a year — to get them fixed the right way," Gates said.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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