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Souris River Hits Record High Flood Level in Minot, N.D.

Hemera Technologies/, N.D.) -- The continuously rising Souris River has already broken a record high, set in 1881, in Minot, N.D., and it's still rising.

The historic flooding has forced more than 11,000 people from their homes, and giraffes, lions and other animals from the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot have been relocated to new homes.

Shelters continue to fill up. The flooding has already made the local history books, and it is not done yet.

"The water is coming in deeper and faster than was expected," North Dakota's governor, Jack Dalrymple, said Friday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released pent-up water from the Lake Darling Dam, which will push water downstream toward Minot at 29,000 cubic feet per second -- more than three times the record flow rate before this year and double the projections just four days ago. Those raging waters are expected to start pushing against the already buckling makeshift Minot levees rated to withstand water flows of up to about 9,500 cfs, according to WDAY.

The Souris River reached 1,558.52 feet above sea level at 12 p.m. Friday at the city's Broadway Bridge, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

The National Weather Service is forecasting the river will crest at 1,564.5 feet by early Sunday, or 15.5 feet above flood stage. The level is expected to begin slowly falling early on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a few miles upstream, the town of Burlington, located where the Souris and Des Lacs Rivers converge, has given up sandbagging as a hopeless endeavor. The town of 1,000 people is expected to lose a third of its 320 homes to flooding.

"We're no longer able to save the city," Burlington mayor Jerome Gruenberg said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Tanganyika Wildlife Park, in Wichita, has taken in nine animals from the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, including three giraffes, two lions, a Siberian tiger, a Bengal tiger and two Amur leopards.

Other animals were sent to zoos in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, while some are being housed in a warehouse in Minot outside of the flood zone.

Minot is also home to more than just families and exotic animals -- Minuteman III nuclear missile silos are also in the flood's path. At least two silos are being protected by sandbags and pumps, but are reported to be safe.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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