Languages
Page last updated at 23:34 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Floods cause havoc in US Midwest

Advertisement

College students help build Fargo's flood defences

North Dakota has been declared a federal disaster area by US President Barack Obama because of record spring flooding across the mid-Western state.

Floodwaters from the Red River, which is expected to peak later this week, have closed roads and bridges.

National guardsmen and volunteers are reinforcing flood defences.

The rising waters are also affecting the neighbouring state of Minnesota which, like North Dakota, borders the Red River on its route towards Canada.

A blizzard has brought snow and freezing rain to North Dakota and high winds have knocked out the electricity supply to some towns in the state.

Hundreds of miles of highways and roads have been blocked in North Dakota and the neighbouring states of Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Weather experts say the extreme flatness of the Red River Valley means the overflowing water tends to go wide, move slowly and take weeks to recede because the soil is increasingly saturated.

"You will have an extremely wide river," Pat Slattery of the National Weather Service told AFP news agency.

A waterway that now measures 100 yards wide "might turn into between a mile and a mile-and-a-half", the forecaster added.

Flood defences

Ice on the Red River surrounds a house in North Dakota, US (26/03/2009)
Some flooded areas of North Dakota are without power

The authorities in North Dakota have used explosives to destroy an ice jam on the Missouri River in an attempt to ease the build up of water.

The flow of water had been blocked by car-sized blocks of ice joining the Missouri from the Heart River tributary, threatening low-lying areas of the state capital, Bismarck.

Bismarck Mayor John Warford said the authorities were "cautiously optimistic" that the demolition would have a positive effect.

Earlier reports said an ice jam north of Bismarck had burst but the National Weather Service later said the blockage was intact, though leaking.

Mr Warford said the ice jam, 16km (10 miles) from Bismarck, was still a cause for concern.

"The fact that it could break at any time is bad news," AP quoted him as saying.

Volunteers have also been called out in the Bismarck area to help fill in sandbags to bolster the city's flood defences.

Army engineers were preparing to release water from the Missouri River's Garrison Dam, north of Bismarck, once flooding in the capital had eased.

The region last suffered a devastating flood in 1997, which left more than $2bn in damage and tens of thousands of people displaced after 570,000 hectares of land were swamped.

Map of North Dakota and surrounding region



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Thousands threatened by US floods
08 Jan 09 |  Americas
Flood turmoil in US Midwest
15 Jun 08 |  Americas

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Environment News Service Ice Jam Detonated at North Dakota Capital, Residents Evacuate - 2 hrs ago
Canada.com Massive floods swamp North Dakota - 2 hrs ago
CBC Rising river prompts evacuation orders in Fargo, N.D. - 3 hrs ago
Times of India US: Floods swamp North Dakota - 4 hrs ago
CNN Fargo in race against time, raging floodwaters - 5 hrs ago



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific