River and overland flooding threatening Stutsman County roads, homes
JAMESTOWN, N.D. — The water of the James River is threatening Kyla Lubenow's home on the edge of Montpelier.
"The river next to the house is as high as the bridge. The field next to the house has turned into a lake," she said. "It's just an overwhelming mess."
High school students from Montpelier Public School helped family and friends Wednesday, Oct. 23, place sandbags around the house and shop at the Lubenow residence.
"We're very appreciative," she said. "So many people reaching out and asking to help."
The flooding situation near Montpelier, which is about 20 miles southeast of Jamestown, isn't limited to the Lubenow home.
"We're getting vehicles out of the yard in case we can't get out of the yard later," said John Marsolek, who lives about a mile south of Montpelier.
Marsolek said the road north from his home to Montpelier is blocked by water. Last night, water went over the other route south from the home in two places although vehicles are still traveling on that road.
"We're doing what we can do to try to save the house and shop," he said. "The community and good friends are helping out."
Bill Anderson, Montpelier Township supervisor, said the roads along the James River were among the most damaged in the township.
"The valley road south of Montpelier is underwater in three or four places from the James River," he said. "The rest of the roads (in the township) are terrible. It's too muddy. We had them bladed, but they're back to where they were."
The Montpelier area is receiving water from the James River, which is rising as flows from Jamestown and Pipestem dams are increased. It also is receiving water from Beaver Creek, which flows into the James River from the west, just south of Montpelier.
"It's close to where it was in 2011 and it is still coming up," Anderson said of the James River level. "The water at the bridge south of Montpelier is about 2 inches below the beams. Beaver Creek may start dropping, but the James is still rising."
Bear said the river level is still below what he remembers from the flood of 2009 "but it is still rising."
"I expect the sandbags we put out today to stay up until spring," he said.
Areas away from the James River are also experiencing flooding.
"Roads that have never been close to going underwater before are going under this fall," said Bryan Jones, Lippert Township supervisor.
Lippert Township is located south of Interstate 94 about 5 miles west of Jamestown.
Jones estimated somewhere between five and eight flooded roads all caused by overland flooding.
"Even spots where the roads were raised in previous floods are going under," he said. "We've got to find some more road closed signs."
Edmunds Township, located just east of Highway 281 at the northern edge of Stutsman County, is another hard-hit area. The township has closed roads in five locations where water was deep or flowing across township roads causing a hazard.
"Multiple other spots where the water is just creeping across," said Matt Nieland, Edmunds Township supervisor. "This is way worse for this time of year than other years. We've had problems like this in the spring but never in the fall."
Nieland said other roads are "soft and rutted up" even though there has been little or no traffic by farm equipment this month.
"The hunting traffic is not helping the road conditions," he said.
Mikey Nenow, Stutsman County road superintendent, said some county roads have also been closed.
Nenow said county crews have placed markers on the edges of some roads that are covered with water. In other areas, where a road is the only access for one or more farm families, the county has built up the road with gravel to keep it passable.
"If it gets too bad, we shut the road down," he said. "We have three places that (Stutsman County roads) are closed."
Some roads are likely to remain closed until the spring, Nenow said.
Crews from the Stutsman County Road Department are continuing to blade gravel roads and remove ruts until the ground freezes solid, Nenow said. At that time, any ruts in the roads will likely remain until the spring thaw.
"Watch out where you're going," he said. "Travelers in Stutsman County need to use a lot of caution."