WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published March 22, 2013, 05:59 PM

Flood Preparations Begin

Small towns along the Red River will soon begin preparing for rising river levels. Major flooding is predicted for Oslo, Grafton and Pembina.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Small towns along the Red River will soon begin preparing for rising river levels. Major flooding is predicted for Oslo, Grafton and Pembina.

We took a trip North of Grand Forks today to talk with community leaders in those towns. The mood is one of concern, but also one of confidence.

Scott Kosmatka, Oslo Mayor: "It gets to be a little trying but you know, we are resilient over here, we just deal with it year after year. "

That is a common response from many that will soon be dealing with flood waters once again. In Olso there is a 50 percent chance of the Red rising to 37 feet. At that level they will have to make sand bags, put in closures and find volunteers to walk the dikes. The water will also test newly completed upgrades to the flood protection.

Kosmatka: "Levy on the west side, with no vegetation on it, a major flood we would have to deal with erosion."

Mayor Kosmatka says it's also very likely the town will become an island again. Just to the northwest in Grafton, the Park River has a 50 percent chance of reaching 14 and a half feet. The city will decide next week what precautions it will take.

Brent Nelson, Walsh County Emergency Manager: "...Bring in the corps of engineers and contractors to fill in some gaps that they have in their emergency levies."

Back to the Red, in Pembina the river has a 95 percent chance of reaching major flood levels. This could be the forth time in five years, so they haven't forgotten the procedures.

Ken Norby, Public Works Director: "It's going to be on the high side of the flood. Shouldn't be a lot of problems besides putting in closures and flood gates and stuff, and making sure we have some sandbags on hand."

Another town in northeastern North Dakota that will be paying close attention to the river is Neche, where there is a 50 percent chance of major flooding. Minor flooding is also forecasted for Drayton.

Devil's Lake region

Our wet winter means there's now a 90 percent chance that Devils Lake will rise at least two feet this year, but people in towns surrounding the lake remain optimistic. Believe it or not, there are some lake shore communities that wouldn't mind the water rising this spring.

In Tolna, near the shore of Stump Lake, residents say all the damage that can be done already has been. High lake levels two years ago destroyed county roads and flooded the Stump Lake park, but locals have adapted. Homes near the lake have been built on higher ground, and the park's cafe has been rebuilt. Some actually say more water would improve recreation in the area.

Odell Flaagan, Nelson County Commissioner: "They like to see the water stay up, you know. Like I say, through the years, last year, there were many people that asked me "What are you gonna do to keep water in Stump Lake?"

Locals in Tolna say they're skeptical the two state outlets will be able to make much of a difference in reducing lake levels this year.