North Dakota Flooding ContinuesBy Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 28th, 2011
Residents of the Minot, N.D., area, including more than 1,000 consumer-members of a rural electric cooperative, continue to watch emergency levees as they wait for floodwaters from the Souris River to recede.
The waterway, which loops down toward Minot from Canada, crested nearly 13 feet above flood stage June 26, but experts warned that the emergency levees were still under a lot of pressure. They urged local officials and first responders to inspect them frequently, so they could be reinforced if a breach appeared likely.
“It’s an ongoing fight,” said Lieut. Col. Kendall Bergmann, deputy district engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Corps contractors, working with the North Dakota Army National Guard and other North Dakota city governments, were refortifying previously built emergency levees in at least three communities June 27.
Managers and staff at Verendrye Electric Cooperative continued to monitor conditions on the Souris, known in the United States as the Mouse River. An earthen levee, built June 23 around the co-op’s Velva, N.D., headquarters, remained in place.
The brown soil of the dike has served as a constant reminder of the co-op’s commitment to maintaining service even as consumer-members and several staffers face long recoveries from flood damage.
“If your home or business is not impacted by flooding, it is unlikely that you will experience an outage caused by flooding,” said Tom Rafferty, the co-op’s community relations manager. “If you are affected by high water, outages are inevitable and could be long lasting.”
About 25 percent of Minot’s 40,000 residents were ordered to evacuate in the wake of the rising floodwaters. Verendrye EC serves some consumer-members and metered accounts within the city of Minot, but the bulk of its meters are in outlying areas. The city of Velva raised its flood control dikes an additional five feet in preparation for the worst flooding since 1881.
The co-op has told consumer-members that late fees, facility charges, disconnection and reconnection fees related to the flooding would be waived, said Rafferty. “We know that recovering from this flood is going to take a while and we want to help our members through these difficult times.”
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who toured flooded areas June 26, observed that it was “sobering, to say the least.”
Members of the state’s congressional delegation have also toured the area. Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., joined Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., in calling for federal agencies to provide for flood victims.