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Published May 25, 2011, 04:00 PM

Bismarck Puts Out 'Urgent' Call for Sandbaggers

City officials in Bismarck put out a call Wednesday for people to help fill sandbags, saying volunteers are urgently needed as residents along the rising Missouri River continue efforts to safeguard their property.

By: Associated Press,

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — City officials in Bismarck put out a call Wednesday for people to help fill sandbags, saying volunteers are urgently needed as residents along the rising Missouri River continue efforts to safeguard their property.

The river has been swollen by spring snowmelt and heavy rain, and releases from Garrison Dam will be at record levels. The river could rise 2 feet above flood stage in the Bismarck-Mandan area, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

"There is an urgent need for volunteers to fill sandbags at Sandbag Central at the Missouri Valley Complex (fairgrounds), Bismarck Expressway," the city's statement said. "Bring gloves and a shovel."

Todd Sando, chief engineer for the State Water Commission, said flooding is likely to cause basement water problems in south Bismarck because dikes won't be able to keep out water that seeps underground in the area's sandy soils. He advised residents to have a spare sump pump and a generator in case there are power problems.

Bismarck was closing some parks and Riverwood Golf Course, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Dakota Zoo was building perimeter dikes and contacting other zoos in case some animals need to be moved, Director Terry Lincoln said.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed," he told KXMB-TV. "Let's just say we've got a lot of animals and they certainly don't walk on a stock trailer themselves."

The Lewis and Clark Riverboat should be able to continue operations but will have to be moved to a new dock, Tracy Potter, director of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, told the Tribune.

To the north, Minot's dike system was being shored up in anticipation of higher flows on the Souris River. The Army Corps of Engineers hired contractors to shore up about 40 spots, City Engineer Alan Walter told the Minot Daily News. The work was likely to result in some street closures.

The Souris is flooding because of excessive spring snowmelt and rain in the river basin in the U.S. and Canada. Lake Darling upstream from Minot is near its maximum elevation and officials say more water will need to be released later this week, increasing flows through Minot.

"They tell me that they'll start opening the gates at Lake Darling on Thursday," Walter said. "It's a race, yes."

In western North Dakota, Sully Creek State Park and the Bully Pulpit Golf Course at Medora remained closed Wednesday because of flooding along the Little Missouri River. The Badlands Ministries summer camp south of Medora was reachable only by boat. The small town of Marmarth formulated an evacuation plan, though Slope County Emergency Manager Richard Frederick told The Dickinson Press that it appeared the danger had passed.

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