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Keeping an eye on the river

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After rising overnight, the Little Missouri River has crept above the flood stage of 15 feet, reaching 15.8 feet as of 4 p.m. Saturday, Billings County officials report. Now town and county leaders are in wait-and-see mode.

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The river was at 14.6 feet late Friday evening, the National Weather Service predicts the river will crest at 6 tonight at more than 17 feet, and the previous record crest for the Little Missouri River in Medora was in 1947 when it peaked at 20.5 feet.

Rising water levels are due to snow melt in other areas, officials say.

Medora City Council members and Billings County officials met Saturday to plan in case the river threatens the town.

They decided that the best course of action would be to wait and see how high the river gets and to ready sandbags, said Billings County Emergency Manager Pat Rummel.

"Yesterday (city officials) went around and took measurements on the natural diking system around town," Rummel said. "The part that they are concerned about is north of the tracks in town."

The natural dike system sits at 20 feet; Rummel said at 20 feet water will reach the top of the road.

"It's showing a crest of 17 feet so we've got about 3 feet of play there, but that 17 feet is just a prediction," Rummel said. "We wanted to be prepared just in case it did go above what they predicted."

If water hits 18 feet, officials will meet again, Rummel said.

They have placed a few sandbags around the city, but have done no mass-scale sandbagging, Rummel said. About 7,800 are filled and loaded on a trailer with about 2,500 available to fill, he added.

Some tools for sandbagging including poly plastic sheeting and Hesco baskets, which are wire baskets lined with waterproof material and filled with sandbags to provide a waterproof barrier, were asked for through the state to the Corps of Engineers for the city, said Debbie Simon, Federal Emergency Management Agency public information officer.

Simon said she isn't aware of any other area towns experiencing any problems.

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