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Heart River Heralds Floods


Floods are a regular springtime worry in North Dakota, and almost a season by themselves some years. In the east, the Red has flooded many times, with the 1826 flood believed to be the largest in recorded history. It washed trappers and natives off the land, resulting in deaths from drowning and starvation.

In 2011, the Souris River flooded to devastate Minot, and the Sheyenne has hit Valley City several times.

Another major flood was foretold on this date in 1969 when the Heart River overflowed. The river flooded parts of Mandan following warm temperatures and rapidly melting snow. In the days to come, the Heart would hit its ninth highest recorded crest – over twenty and a half feet. The river was the first in North Dakota to flood that spring, a harbinger for Minot, one hundred miles to the north.

The sunny skies and highs in the 60s swelled the Souris and Des Lacs rivers three days after the Heart flooded Mandan. Sandbagging and evacuations began almost immediately. Thousands of homes were evacuated in what city officials said was the second most damaging flood in city history.

Minoters worked around the clock to fight the floodwater. The Souris River overflowed the Lake Darling spillway, chopping Minot in two, as one headline put it. The National Guard and Minot Air Force Base were called in to help. The stress of the flood fight even caused an elk and an emu to die from shock as the Roosevelt Park Zoo scrambled to save its animals from the water. Some peacocks even got loose, prompting the zoo to ask Minot residents to feed them if they could.

Rumors flew, including stories about ice chunks threatening to rip apart the Lake Darling Dam. Eventually, over 10,000 Magic City residents were displaced and more than half of the homes had water on the main floor before April was over.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


"http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/crests.php?wfo=bis&gage=mdnn8&crest_type=historic" http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/crests.php?wfo=bis&gage=mdnn8&crest_type=historic

Fundingsland, K. (2008, Oct. 1). Flood of 1969 surprised city. Minot Daily News. Retrieved from:

"http://www.minotdailynews.com/page/content.detail/id/519530.html?nav=5576" http://www.minotdailynews.com/page/content.detail/id/519530.html?nav=5576

Marx, G. (2009, Apr 17). The worst flood ever in the Red River Basin? Try 1826. Crookston Times. Retrieved from: "http://www.crookstontimes.com/article/20090417/NEWS/304179989" http://www.crookstontimes.com/article/20090417/NEWS/304179989