Skip to comments.FEMA administrator will attend Devils Lake flood summit
Posted on 04/23/2010 7:30:21 AM PDT by Willie Green
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate will visit Devils Lake on May 3 to headline a Devils Lake Flood Summit that addresses immediate and long-range flood protection in the basin.
The summit, which will be held at Lake Region State College, is being convened by the North Dakota congressional delegation, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Sen. Kent Conrad and Sen. Byron Dorgan, all Democrats.
We appreciate administrator Fugates willingness to come to Devils Lake to see firsthand the challenges we face, and discuss the very real threat these rising flood waters pose to communities throughout the region, the delegation said Wednesday in a joint statement. This flood summit will also be an excellent opportunity for the people in the Devils Lake Basin to make their case for a coordinated and permanent solution to the problem.
Devils Lake, which has risen by more than 28 feet and tripled in size since 1993, is setting an elevation record almost every day this spring. It was at 1,451.42 feet above sea level Wednesday, about 1.4 feet higher than it was at freeze-up over the winter.
The National Weather Services latest outlook lists a 50 percent chance the lake will reach 1,451.8 feet and a 10 percent chance it will hit 1,452.6 feet this year.
The lake rose 3.5 feet in 2009, peaking at 1,450.74 feet in late June.
At its present elevation of 1,451.42 feet, Devils Lake is just more than 6.5 feet away from the 1,458-foot elevation, at which it would spill naturally from Stump Lake to the Tolna Coulee and the Sheyenne River, which runs into the Red River. The weather service lists a 10 percent chance that Devils Lake will overflow its natural outlet into the Sheyenne River by 2019.
The lake has overflowed at least three times since the last Ice Age.
Since 1993, an estimated $1 billion has been spent to improve infrastructure, including raising levees, roads and bridges, as well as moving water, sewer and electrical lines.
Another $200 million will be spent over the next couple of years to raise state highways another 5 feet, to 1,460 feet, and to raise and convert a dike protecting the city of Devils Lake into a dam.
Record water levels in Devils Lake have wreaked havoc in surrounding communities, including Minnewaukan, N.D., and the Spirit Lake Nation, the delegation said.
Temporary sandbag dikes were built on the east end of Minnewaukan this spring to protect the local public school and other property from the encroaching water. Still, the citys water and sewer infrastructure, as well as homes and businesses, are being inundated or threatened by rising groundwater levels.
The rising lake poses a mounting threat to critical infrastructure throughout the region, including roads and rail lines, the delegation said. If the lake continues to rise, a potentially catastrophic overflow also threatens North Dakota communities downstream on the Sheyenne and Red rivers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded $103 million in emergency relief funding to strengthen and raise the roads in the Devils Lake basin. The funds will be used to raise portions of U.S. Highway 281, N.D. Highway 19, N.D. Highway 20, and N.D. Highway 57 as well roads on the Spirit Lake Nation. About $8 million of the funds will be targeted specifically at roads acting as dams in the basin.
The continued rise of Devils Lake is swallowing up more land and roads. The floodwaters are also once again threatening rail lines. BNSF estimates it will take $100 million to keep the line open that Amtrak runs on through Devils Lake. If not, the Empire Builder would have to be re-routed, cutting off service to Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Rugby.
Senator Byron Dorgan has been talking with the BNSF president about the problem.
Dorgan says the water has yet to hit the tracks and may not get there this year but he says something will have to be done to keep the line open.
Devils Lake has already hit a new record elevation and the weather service expec
“Its the circle of life...”
I always enjoy driving to Devils Lake. Every few years a route that I used to take ends up underwater though...
Devils Lake has already hit a new record elevation and the weather service expec(post unexpectedly truncated)Hmmm... I don't know why that cut-off unexpectedly...
Oh, well... here's the full sentence:
Devils Lake has already hit a new record elevation and the weather service expects it could rise another 2 to 3 feet by this summer. The lake has risen by 28 feet since 1993.There.... that's better!