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Rising Water


On this date in 1974, an estimated 4,000 people were moving out of their homes in Minot as the Souris River approached flood stage. Minot Mayor Chester Reiten said that dikes already in place could hold back the river until it reached a flow of 3,600 cubic feet per second. But it was expected to reach 4,000 feet per second the following day and 6,000 cubic feet by the end of the week. That would put the crest of the Souris River at 20.5 feet. Flood stage was 14 feet.

The Minot City Council held a special session to discuss the situation. The mayor announced that an emergency telephone line was set up for Minot residents. Councilmen planned to man the phones on a rotating basis to get information from residents and address rumors. The Council gave the city manager special emergency police powers and prohibited individual diking on private property.

Trucks were scheduled to begin hauling dirt for diking. Schools were closed. 90 mobile homes were being moved into the area for evacuated residents. Lieutenant Governor Wayne Sanstead, acting because the governor was out of the state, declared an emergency for the Minot area. Eighteen members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were in Minot to assist with diking, and two hundred North Dakota Army National Guardsmen from Bismarck had been called up and ordered to report to Minot. The Guardsmen would assist with evacuations.

Senator Milton R. Young of North Dakota noted that Minot was suffering its third flood in five years. He urged the Department of Housing and Urban Development to aid Minot flood victims. Young faulted the Weather Service for failing to forecast the severe flood. He also planned to go to Minot to consult with local leaders.

Flooding is not unusual for Minot, with the worst coming in 2011, topping the previous record that dated back to 1881.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher.


Bismarck Tribune. 19 April, 1974:

“4,000 Must Flee Minot Floodland”

“Guard to Aid Minot Area”

“HUD Aid Sought for Flood Victims”

Huffpost Green. “Thousands Flee as Officials Warn City Could be Under Water Soon.” 6/22/2011. "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/minot-north-dakota-flooding-2011_n_882494.html" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/minot-north-dakota-flooding-2011_n_882494.html Accessed 3/8/2016.