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Press Photo by Ashley Martin Water from the Heart River flows over 10th Avenue Southeast near Dickinson on Thursday. A Belfield man drove off the bridge here Wednesday.

Flood threat remains

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Dickinson residents prepared for the worst as ice jams and snowmelt caused river waters in the area to continue to spill over their banks Thursday.

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Several friends and community members helped Ryan Beck, who lives near the Heart River on Palm Beach Road, put up a sandbag barrier in his backyard.

The water was about 40 feet into Beck's yard and about 75 feet away from his home Thursday morning. Beck said he's lived there for five years and hasn't had to sandbag until now.

"This is the farthest I've seen it," Beck said. "I'm pretty nervous to watch the water rise like that."

Several roads have been closed and reopened since Tuesday due to high water.

A Belfield man who drove around a barricade on 10th Avenue Southeast on Wednesday afternoon took an unexpected dip into the Heart River.

Brian Hlibichuk, 44, was driving a 2005 Dodge Dakota pickup and Shawn Hondl, 41, of Dickinson was riding with him at the time, said Capt. Lawrence Kitzman, Stark County Sheriff's Department said.

"It appeared that after passing the barricade, he saw the water, panicked and hit the brakes and went into the water," Kitzman said. "He went over the east side of the cement crossing."

Kitzman said Hlibichuk was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

"When they went into the water, they smashed right into a big ice chunk," Kitzman said, adding it caused at least $1,000 damage to the vehicle.

Neither men were injured and Kitzman said it appears they escaped from the passenger side door. Both men got out just before Kitzman and Stark County Emergency Manager Gary Kostelecky came across the pickup. They discovered Hlibichuk walking nearby.

The bridge where he went into the Heart River was completely covered in water by Thursday morning. Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said the water was 3 to 4 feet over the river's banks.

"I've seen it like this before, but not for many years," Tuhy said.

Kostelecky said the water level of the Heart River had receded and was stabilized by Thursday afternoon.

"The bascule gates (at the Dickinson Dam) are moderating the water so that it's controlling it right now," Kostelecky said. "The gates will go up or down a little bit, depending on how much water is backed up there."

He added depending on how fast it warms up this morning, the area may have gone through the worst of the problem. Kostelecky said the water levels haven't caused any emergencies.

"I don't think we've had any real big problems out there," Kostelecky said. "Either they haven't called it in or they're taking care of it by themselves."

Al Heiser, Stark County road superintendent said areas south of South Heart were still flooded Thursday and five roads remained closed around Dickinson, South Heart and Belfield. Areas on 43rd Street (southeast of Dickinson), 43rd Street (south of South Heart), 38th Street (west of South Heart), 39th street (near Belfield) and 107th Avenue (northeast of Dickinson) were flooded Thursday.

Today's forecast is partly sunny with a high temperature of 63 degrees.

A flood warning issued by the National Weather Service for Stark County was to end at 9:45 p.m. Thursday. Flood advisories in Stark and surrounding counties remains in effect until 4 p.m. today.

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