June 27, 2011
Flood Evacuation: Lessons Learned From the 2011 Spring Floods - 0
by Tim MacWelch
North Dakota's fourth largest city made the news last week as the rising waters of the Souris River poured over flood defenses in Minot, North Dakota, on Wednesday, forcing the immediate evacuation of 12,000 people.
The residents knew that the evacuation was imminent, but emergency sirens sounded some five hours earlier than was expected—around 1 p.m.—as the water began flowing over levees.
Heavy rains over the past six weeks have swelled Canadian reservoirs in the Souris River basin, forcing water releases of an unprecedented volume. Here in the U.S., officials must release water from the Lake Darling Dam above Minot at a rate more than double what the recently fortified protections can bear. It’s that, or risk losing the dam entirely.
This was by no means the first catastrophic flood of the year. Both Montana and Louisiana were flooded this year with residents forced to evacuate their homes.
So what do you do when a flood hits your town?
When the evacuation notice is given or when the siren blows, the things you do next depend on whether you have to leave in a few hours or immediately.
• If you only have minutes to get out, don’t waste time gathering possessions. Most things can be replaced, lives cannot.