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Several Barnes County homes lost in flooding

VALLEY CITY, N.D. - Several Barnes County homes have been lost to Sheyenne River flooding, even as the U.S.

A cattle dog looks out across the floodwaters
A cattle dog looks out across the floodwaters Monday on the Jerry Hieb farm south of Valley City. In the background are different farm trucks and implements that have been swallowed by the raging river. John Steiner / Forum Communications Co.

VALLEY CITY, N.D. - Several Barnes County homes have been lost to Sheyenne River flooding, even as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut back releases from Baldhill Dam, officials said Monday.

The river level in town hit 20.66 feet Monday, just hundredths of an inch shy of the record 20.69 feet set in 2009, the National Weather Service said.

That could bounce back to a record 21 feet by the weekend, depending on how fast moisture from Friday's snow gets to the river, said Chauncy Schultz, weather service meteorologist.

In rural Barnes County, seven homes were under water and eight families were holding out in homes surrounded by water, said Julie Nelson, county emergency operations center spokeswoman.

Between the city and county, 62 homes are evacuated, mostly for access issues with levee construction and washed out or blocked roads, she said.

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Eleven homes in the Woodland Park area just south of Valley City are also a concern, she said.

Releases from Baldhill Dam north of Valley City were lowered from 7,000 cubic feet per second to 6,500 cfs Monday, said Shannon Bauer, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman.

Bauer said the lower releases, due to cold weather slowing inflows to Lake Ashtabula, should drop the river level 3 to 6 inches.

"That's wonderful news," Valley City Administrator Jon Cameron said.

Work on the city's levees was to be done by early today, he said, with the last of seven contingency levees done Monday. Now, they must be watched, with water in the 20-foot range expected for the next seven to 10 days, Cameron said.

Five homes in the city have been flooded, he said. Four of them were on the 2009 flood buyout list.

Rich Schueneman, re­source manager for the corps at Baldhill Dam, said releases should stay at 6,500 or drop, unless there is significant rain or snow in the watershed.

The corps' Bauer said work to bring Lisbon's levees to 24.5 feet was to be finished Monday.

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Lisbon Mayor Ross Cole said that should protect the city from a 22.5 crest.

He said with the crest prediction lowered Monday by almost a foot to 21.7 feet, "It really makes things good."

"Still, the levees must be watched for the next week to 10 days," Cole said.

Valley City and Lisbon residents were asked to limit water use to reduce stress on sanitary sewer systems.

"If we got it overtaxed, we'd have to pump directly into the river, and we don't want to do that. We're not worried about a failure, but we are worried about taxing the system too much," Cameron said.

Valley City and Barnes County residents who haven't signed up for the CodeRED warning system or who haven't updated their contact information should call (701) 845-3110, Nelson said.

Residents who have to leave their homes should call the flood hotline at (701) 845-0770, Nelson said.

The National Guard had 157 personnel on duty in Valley City and Barnes County, Nelson said.

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"Thank God we've got the National Guard here" to help, Cameron said.

Cameron said he hasn't had a day off since March 26 - 23 straight days of work.

"It will be nice when it's over," he said.

View Locations of Lake Ashtabula and the Baldhill Dam in a larger map

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

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