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Published May 21, 2013, 06:46 PM

Mandatory evacuation order issued as Cavalier, ND prepares for Renwick Dam failure

Residents in Cavalier, North Dakota are under a mandatory evacuation starting at 7 o'clock tonight as they face the very real possibility of a devastating flood.

By: Victor Correa, WDAZ

Residents in Cavalier, North Dakota are under a mandatory evacuation starting at 7 o'clock tonight as they face the very real possibility of a devastating flood.

Construction crews have built makeshift levees standing 6 feet high to prevent flood water from spilling over the dam, but officials expect a breach within twelve hours.

All eyes are on the Renwick dam this evening- and the ears of the residents are listening as they try learn the fate of their town. If this dam fails, Cavalier residents will be forced to evacuate.

Construction crews have been working around the clock all through last night building makeshift levees to buy Cavalier some time.

Gary Nillson, Pembina County Spokesperson: "Right now the water's coming in about four inches an hour, the water west of Cavalier here to, basically to the north or west edge of pembina county -- there's lots of it."

Rivers rushing into the Renwick Dam plus the falling rain has raised the normal dam levels from 970 feet to 984. This is a cause of concern, especially since the dam's emergency spillover is at 983 feet. Construction crews were called in at 11 pm last night to build the levees to hold water back and allow the dam to drain.

Gary: "If we can keep up with the runoff until the runoff starts to slow down then enough water will go down and it'll catch up, but it can't catch up with four inches an hour."

The water is held back for now, but it's being pushed back causing overland flooding in rural areas and even the Cavalier Country Club. Some areas have even begun precautionary evacuation.

Everett Butler, Wedgewood Manor CEO: "We just felt that rather than wait until the last minute and we're dealing with the water issue that we know the water's coming and we just felt that we'd probably safe if we just got everybody out of here."

There are 11 retention dams west of town that are holding back even more water from rushing into the renwick.

Gary: "They are plumb full and we're monitoring them."

There have been no reported complications with those dams, but if any one of them fail, it could spell disaster for Cavalier.

Gary: "If one of those starts to have a problem, that water all comes to the Renwick Dam."

Sandbagging began late this afternoon for rural homes in immediate danger. There are no plans to sandbag homes or businesses within the city, as Nillson says there is no point, if the dam fails the sandbags won't do any good.

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