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Sunday
Jun262011

North Dakota Floods: Concern Over Impact on Agriculture

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MINOT, N.D.) -- Massive flooding of the Souris River has swamped more than 4,000 homes in Minot, North Dakota, but flood levels seem to have peaked.

The Souris River is cresting at two feet lower than expected at 13 feet above flood stage.

However, Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the devastation may be even greater than expected.

"I think we're going to reach probably 4,500 before this is all done where we've got a lot of water on these homes," said Zimbelman.

Sergeant Dave Dodds of the North Dakota National Guard said heavy rains on Saturday will lead to the river remaining at its historic crest for longer than expected.

"Authorities were hoping for maybe a day or two before it started to recede, but you can add maybe an additional 24 hours onto that," Dodds said.

Forecasters said scattered storms are in Sunday's forecast, but the worst part of the storm will likely to be south and east of the Souris River Basin.

Officials were building and re-enforcing levees in the towns of Sawyer and Velvenau in fear that all the water that has been coming through Minot will swamp the two towns.

Those in the agriculture industry across the state have been hit hard by the flooding, with North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple saying that flooding and above-average snowfall during winter have had an adverse impact on agricultural production.

Dalrymple has requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) begin assessing the damages inflicted on crops by flooding and the production losses suffered as a result of severe weather condition. This request serves as the first step in seeking a secretarial disaster declaration, which would make supplemental disaster assistance and other USDA programs available to help farmers and ranchers affected by the flooding, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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