Minot evacuees watch water swallow their homesMINOT — Brenda Grubb stood on the deserted Broadway Bridge and strained to see her home, which she knew had already fallen victim to the Souris River rushing through the city.
By: Wendy Reuer , The Dickinson Press
MINOT — Brenda Grubb stood on the deserted Broadway Bridge and strained to see her home, which she knew had already fallen victim to the Souris River rushing through the city.
Grubb is among those who, although stoic while watching the water swallow her home, was unsure how she would remain in the city already suffering from a lack of available housing. Oilfield workers have snatched up most of the rental properties and many long-term hotel rooms.
“Where else do I go?” she asked. “I have a job here, but I don’t have a house here anymore.”
She was one of a handful on the bridge Thursday afternoon. Only an hour after officials delivered news the evacuation areas would be widened from the nine evacuation zones to most of the lower-lying valley, the bridge once full of pedestrian and vehicles suffered eerie silence broken only by the noise of area trucks hauling materials so workers could build up levees to save what they could.
After original calculations estimated Lake Darling would be increasing releases to about 11,000 cubic feet per second, those estimates jumped to releases of an expected 29,000 cfs by today after areas to the north received up to 6 inches of rain. The Souris River is expected to rise above the 1881 record-making flood by up to 7 feet by Saturday or Sunday.
Broadway, or U.S. Highway 83, was the only north-south traffic route through the city after all other bridges were closed earlier this week. City and state Department of Transportation officials hoped to keep it open, feverishly working to build surrounding dikes as high as possible. But by 2 p.m. Thursday, officials said the bridge would need to close immediately.
Cars were lined up, attempting to reach the Highway 83 bypass on the western edge of town, the only passable route in the city.
BNSF railroad employees covered an earthen levee built up to just a few feet below the roof of the recently rebuilt historic Minot depot.
Frustration and weariness from the flood fight was setting in across the river basin, although most people were trying to stay positive.
Although Kelly Huerta of Burlington helped sandbag her city until 1 a.m. later Thursday morning she was busy helping co-workers in Minot.
“People have been amazing here,” Huerta said.
Red Cross representatives estimated about 220 of the 11,000 people evacuated earlier this week were staying in public shelters at the Minot Auditorium and the Minot State University Dome. The rest were staying with family, friends or even strangers who live on high ground who offered their homes to evacuees.
As the river continues to swell, so do households that have opened up doors to evacuees. A list of about 30 homes was posted on a local television station’s website.
The city remained open for business. Many restaurants and services had signs on the front door asking for patrons’ patience because staffing was short due to evacuations.
Dan Klingbeil, who lives on the hills of the city, did not have to evacuate. Like many of his co-workers at RHI Supply in Minot, he was helping others gather belongings from their homes and move to higher ground on his off hours.
Klingbeil said the evacuations have taken a toll on the elderly more than anyone.
“They’re just giving up,” he said. “They’re like zombies.”
Reuer is a repoter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.