Thousands Flee Flooding in North Dakota

Posted June 22nd, 2011 at 9:55 am (UTC-5)
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More than 11,000 people are leaving their homes in the midwestern U.S. state of North Dakota as the Souris River threatens to reach record levels.

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman set the evacuation deadline at 6 pm local time Wednesday, several hours earlier than initially ordered. Residents along the river upstream and downstream of Minot have also been ordered to evacuate. Zimbelman said the water was “rising fast” and it would be dangerous to linger in its path.

A local reporter saw people racing to pile refrigerators, stoves, and other valuables into trucks and trailers, trying to get them to higher ground before the water hit. Dikes are being built and reinforced around key buildings to try to protect them.

Heavy rains in Canada, where the Souris River originates, have filled reservoirs there, forcing authorities to release the overflow. The peak flow is expected in the coming days, with river levels expected to rise up to eight feet above the record set in 1969, when floodwaters caused massive damage across the region.