Bogged down near Devils LakeBus tour of basin gets stuck on county road GRAND FORKS — About 100 people on a bus tour of the flooded Devils Lake Basin experienced the situation up close this week. They got stuck in the mud.
By: Kevin Bonham, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — About 100 people on a bus tour of the flooded Devils Lake Basin experienced the situation up close this week.
They got stuck in the mud.
The two buses became stranded for about an hour on a county road near Crary in eastern Ramsey County.
“It was a good tour, but we had to cut it short,” said Jeff Frith, manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board. “We didn’t get to see the northern part of the tour, the inundated farmland areas.”
Despite several days of nearly constant rain, participants came from across the state, from Grand Forks, Fargo, Valley City, Bismarck and beyond, to see the flooded region.
Devils Lake has been in the news because of an 18-year flood that has swamped the basin.
The lake has risen by more than 30 feet and quadrupled in size, growing to more than 200,000 acres. Thursday afternoon, the lake was at about 1,454.35 feet above sea level — less than four feet from spilling naturally to the Tolna Coulee and Sheyenne River.
On Wednesday, participants toured flooded portions of Camp Grafton, a North Dakota National Guard regional training facility, parts of the flooded Spirit Lake Nation, and the Stump Lake/Tolna Coulee area.
However, shortly after crossing north across U.S. Highway 2, the buses became bogged down, according to Frith.
“Because of the weather, we had to make some adjustments to our route,” Frith said. “We thought the county road into Crary was a better road, but we got stuck anyway.”
Fortunately, Ramsey County Commission Chairman Joe Belford was on the tour, he said. He contacted a county highway department shop, located in Crary, and a county employee used a road maintainer to pull out both buses.
That essentially ended the tour.
“We did want to get up by Churchs Ferry and Cando and show those areas by Lake Irvine, Lake Alice, and Penn,” Frith said, as well as Minnewaukan.
The majority of residents in Penn, a small town west of Devils Lake, are in the process of leaving because of a federal flood-acquisition program. Floodwater has compromised sewer and other utilities.
A portion of Minnewaukan, a town of 300 on the west shore of Devils Lake, is in the process of being relocated to higher ground. A temporary dike is keeping lake water away from the school, the town water tower and other homes and businesses.
“From what we did see, I’d say the Tolna Coulee was the highlight,” Frith said. “But I wish we could have seen more.”
Bonham is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.