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Souris River Continues To Inundate Minot, N.D.


Earlier this week, it sounded as if things couldn't get worse in Minot, North Dakota, population 41,000. Residents of Minot had been evacuated when the Souris river flooded. They had returned to their homes, only to learn that the river was rising again, and then they were evacuated again.

Well, now the intensity of water flowing south out of Canada, where there have been torrential rains and a heavy snow melt, is overwhelming the Souris River valley, not just overflowing its dikes and levees but evidently escaping any boundaries remotely resembling the normal riverbanks.

Kim Fundingsland is covering all this for the Minot Daily News. We spoke with him earlier this week, and he joins us once again. Kim, how bad is it today?

Mr. KIM FUNDINGSLAND (Writer, Minot Daily News): Worse by the hour. It's all that you said, and it's hard to quantify anymore with double-that, triple-that, quadruple-that, but you'd still be correct.

SIEGEL: The other day when is poke to you, you had just finished or had recently finished clearing out a house of a man you know. Is that still going on? Are people still taking belongings out of homes and trying to get out ahead of the flood?

Mr. FUNDINGSLAND: Well, certainly nowhere near the home that I referenced earlier, which now has water up - well up on the main picture window in the living room of that home, which was dry a day and a half ago, when we last spoke. It was just beginning to flood.

We hear how high the water is going to get, but seeing it makes one believe that the numbers just won't quite be right. So it's - people aren't willing to take that chance. So the number of people evacuating has been growing by the minute, literally.

SIEGEL: We've seen news of one small town a few miles west of Minot, Burlington, North Dakota, which seems to have just packed it in. They can't do any more.

Mr. FUNDINGSLAND: It's horrible what's going on, and we saw a parade of dump trucks come into town last night, unbelievable how many trucks are here. There can't be any left anywhere else in the country. It's just amazing. I think the help we need is here now. And I know we have fire trucks loaded on flatbeds that we can take them into areas where the water is three or four or five feet deep. We can still get a fire truck in that would literally be fighting a fire from the top of a large flatbed.

SIEGEL: And is there any sense now of when all this might finally crest, what might be the high point of all this?

Mr. FUNDINGSLAND: Well, we're looking at a rise at least through the weekend and then perhaps high levels for three or four days, right at or about what they're calling the crest. I hesitate to use that term because we get a new crest every day but - sometimes twice a day. So we're looking at water inundating everything that it can reach for four, five, six, seven days at least.

SIEGEL: Kim, just before you leave us, I follow your reporting on the website of the Minot Daily News. How is the paper doing? Is it able to keep on publishing? Is it in the way of the flood now?

Mr. FUNDINGSLAND: It is now. I live about a five-minute drive from work. It took me an hour and 12 minutes to get there this morning because of the route we had to take, and the route that I normally take is now covered by a dike that is - well, if you were to visualize street signs, stop signs, it's two, two-and-a-half times that height. So to get to work now, I have to go way around the city. And since they lost that fight to hold that corridor open, that means that our building, which we previously thought protected, is now subject to these floodwaters. So they are diking and sandbagging there as I speak.

SIEGEL: Well, Kim, thanks a lot for talking with us once again, and good luck to you.

Mr. FUNDINGSLAND: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Kim Fundingsland, a report for the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.