Flood fight continues in parts of NW Minnesota, NE North Dakota

A North Dakota National Guard helicopter lifts a one-ton sandbag
A North Dakota National Guard helicopter lifts a one-ton sandbag during efforts to shore up a dam at risk of failing in Pembina County, N.D., on Tuesday.
Courtesy North Dakota National Guard

North Dakota National Guard helicopter crews have been airlifting one-ton sandbags to shore up a dam in danger of failing, as rivers across the region remain in flood stage from snowmelt and heavy rain in recent weeks.

The Guard on Tuesday dropped more than 100 of the massive sandbags at the Bourbanis Dam in Pembina County, about 70 miles northwest of Grand Forks, N.D. Those efforts were set to continue on Wednesday.

The dam is in the Tongue River watershed upstream from Cavalier, N.D. Pembina County Emergency Management reported Wednesday that "erosion at the Bourbanis Dam (has) stabilized overnight in the area sandbagged yesterday. The remaining Tongue River dams are performing as designed and levels will be monitored closely as the temperature warms and snow melt continues in the upper watershed."

Earlier in the week, the Associated Press reported that some homes had to be evacuated due to flooding in Cavalier — though officials said Wednesday that water levels had since dropped.

To the north, near the Canadian border, road access to the community of Neche, N.D., was completely cut off by floodwaters of the Pembina River earlier in the week and the water level had dropped only slightly as of Wednesday.

A person stands in a roadway looking away towards floodwaters
Floodwaters from the Pembina River cover State Highway 18 at Neche, N.D., on Monday.
Eric Hylden | Grand Forks Herald

Red River flooding

Along the Red River, several state highways in both North Dakota and Minnesota remain closed due to flooding.

Find Minnesota road closure information here.

Find North Dakota road closure information here.

The National Weather Service reported Wednesday that the Red River was dropping at Grand Forks, after cresting just below major flood stage earlier in the week. The river remained in major flood stage at Oslo, Minn., and was predicted to start slowly falling there later in the week.

But river levels were still rising closer to the Canadian border.

On the North Dakota side, Pembina County Emergency Management reported Wednesday morning that "the city of Pembina reports (river) levels are at 51.53 with the crest forecasted to hit Saturday at 53. The night went well for them, though they are getting some reports that some farmsteads are starting to take on some water south of Pembina and sandbagging is currently being done in preparation."

Officials said high school students filled about 5,000 sandbags on Tuesday to use in the Pembina area.

"All communities continue to see constant community involvement, mutual aid, and unending devotion by their local fire departments, county highway workers, public works, and emergency personnel as the fight against the flood waters continues," Pembina County officials reported in an online update.

Find forecast updates here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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