Thousands of residents of Minot, North Dakota are scrambling for drier ground due to an expected and possibly history-making flood. Officials are planning to build ‘people camps’ for many of the affected people who work on nearby oil rigs. Those workers who will most likely be housed in the camps typically live in and around Minot for several months at a time and drive over 100 miles to get to the rigs they work on.
A full one-forth of the city’s 41,000 residents were forced to evacuate as the Souris River broke through levees in some places. Warning sirens were sounded to alert the affected residents to leave their homes immediately. Unfortunately, over the next few days the flooding is expected to become worse than the historic flood that hit the are back in 1969. The Souris reached a record level of 475 meters in 1881 and it is expected to surpass that mark by the coming weekend.
So far two shelters have been set up in Minot – one at Minot State University and the other at the city’s auditorium. However, with a combined capacity of just 1,000 people, more shelters will most likely be set up elsewhere. Red Cross volunteers from many states are arriving in Minot to help with the crisis and the North Dakota National Guard is also in the city to help keep order and to check homes to be sure that people who were told to leave actually did so.
On another negative note, FEMA rejected North Dakota’s application for assistance for private homeowners and businesses. State officials are very displeased with this decision and are appealing that FEMA reconsiders. FEMA will however, assist with flooding costs which are directly related to public infrastructures. North Dakota’s three members of Congress have been on the Senate and House floors giving speeches to press the feds for more financial aid.
The Souris River flows directly through the center of Minot and there are numerous houses and businesses situated on its banks. Local levees have been built because officials do not believe the main levees will be able to hold back the flooding. One makeshift levee is being constructed around a local school while a second is being built around the city’s Broadway St. Bridge. The National Guard has reported that affected residents of Minot are heeding the warnings to leave their homes which is positive as rapidly rising flood waters can prove deadly as we learned very well from the Katrina disaster in New Orleans.