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Published February 09, 2012, 05:43 PM

Devils Lake Construction Crews Get Head Start on Flood Prevention

DEVILS LAKE, ND WDAZ-TV) - Construction crews have parked equipment right next to the homes they're trying to protect. This winter's weather means those machines are being used a lot more.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND WDAZ-TV) - Construction crews have parked equipment right next to the homes they're trying to protect. This winter's weather means those machines are being used a lot more.

Devils Lake City Engineer Mike Grafsgaard says, "In some regards, the flood protection work hasn't stopped for the winter. You know, with the mild winter we've had, the contractor's been working on clearing and grubbing activities," Devils Lake City Engineer Mike Grafsgaard said.

Workers just finished clearing land this week for embankment projects in the Lakewood area of Devils Lake and near Camp Grafton. Grafsgaard says that's all they can do before spring arrives.

"You know, we have to wait for the frost to come out of the ground of course, and we have to wait for spring and summer, but then they'll start working on the embankment work and start putting the touches on raising the dam," Grafsgaard said.

The embankments will ultimately be built to withstand water levels of 1,466 feet, well above even the worst lake level projections. Devils Lake mayor Dick Johnson says embankments like that keep the town from being swallowed by the lake.

If the embankments weren't in place, Johnson says, "Up to the railroad, cutting the town in half, we would be underwater. So our lagoon system would be non-functional, because that would be inundated. Half the city would be gone.

Lake levels aren't projected to rise this year, which means workers can focus more on permanent measures instead of quick fixes. This is all with the hope that locals can be confident their homes will won't be casualties of the lake.

The embankment projects are part of a $150 million project to help keep the lake from claiming any more land in the region.

Grafsgaard says the vast majority of the work will be completed this summer, with a targeted completion date of 2013.

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