At a time when Minot residents thought that the worst couldn't happen, it did.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman explained that he was informed by the Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service that flows in the Souris would be reaching the city faster than expected.
"Due to this, Lake Darling has increased outflow from 14,000 cfs to 18,000 cfs at noon today," Zimbelman said.
James C. Falcon/MDN • Gov. Jack Dalrymple, left, addresses a press conference Thursday. Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman, right, said work will continue on secondary dikes until the last minute possible.
As of Thursday afternoon, the outflow was scheduled to increase up to 26,000 cfs as of 1 a.m. today. By Saturday, the flows will reach 28,000 cfs, and will last for at least two days, he added.
These increases would raise the projected elevation at the Broadway Bridge from 1,563 to 1,566 feet above sea level, and throughout the valley an additional two to three feet. The water is moving at such a fast pace that peaks were expected to hit the Magic City within 24 hours of the release.
To ensure that trucks can safely transport materials for secondary dike construction, Broadway was closed between University Avenue and Burdick Expressway. This closure, while beneficial to the overall cause, left motorists scrambling to find a thoroughfare to the north. The Highway 83 bypass, to the west of Minot, has been suggested, but only for "essential traffic," Zimbelman said.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, explained that today, added weight will be placed on the bridge on the bypass, in the area of Terracita Vallejo and Centennial Park. The dirt placed there will make the bridge "trafficable," while helping to insure the bridge remains in place and is structurally sound, he said.
"This is a very serious situation and vital to our community's flood fighting efforts," Zimbelman said. "We're doing everything we can to build our secondary dikes to allow us to keep Broadway open."
Zimbelman warned, however, that with premature cresting, completion of the secondary dike is not guaranteed. Work will be done on these dikes until the last minute.
The Third Street Viaduct was also closed in order to maintain a secondary dike at that location. Sixteenth Street Southwest was also closed.
Despite the increase of outflow from Lake Darling, Zimbelman said that new evacuation zones have not been drafted.
"There's very little difference in what the inundation is with another 2 1/2 feet. It's half a block here or there," Zimbelman said. He added that if residents feel vulnerable, they can move to higher ground. "It won't be mandated. I think people can make up their own minds on this."
Lt. Col. Kendall Bergmann, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, explained that Minot will exceed the 1969 flood level by several feet, "almost up to doubling what came 42 years ago."
"I continue to feel for what the people of Minot are going through," Bergmann said. "We continue to hold back as much water (from Lake Darling) while releasing it in a controlled manner to protect citizens down river."
In conclusion of the press conference, Zimbelman offered a message of hope to Minot residents.
"I ask the citizens of Minot to stay strong," he said. "We will get through this."