WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 18, 2010, 09:27 AM

Spillway takes on water for just the 4th time

Absaraka, ND (WDAY TV) - One last surge of water tonight is threatening homes in Northwestern Cass County. 9 homes got pre-evacuation warnings after the Absaraka Dam overflowed and began rapidly eroding the spillway, overflowing a neighborhood creek.

All eyes on Absaraka Dam as its spillway takes on water for only the 4th time in its half century of existence.

Corey Greer: “Normally dry.”

All this soil gone in less than 24 hours, and as you can see the rushing water continues to chew away what's left. The same spillage happened in 2009 with an even higher volume of water flow, but the erosion is worse this year because grass didn't grow back in time to protect the soil.

Corey Greer: ”It's normally flat, so it's eroded pretty good, but that's what these dams are meant to do, especially these emergency spillways.”

Regardless, just a few minutes southeast, it has people like Jessica Sell preparing to evacuate herself and those depending on her for their safety.

Jessica Sell: “With the rising water, you can't have horses and kids in water and walking though it.”

Her family got the warning call from officials yesterday, as she watched her yard fill with water.

Jessica: “Oh no, not again. That's seriously what I was thinking.”

For now, the Sells can stay put. Officials say the water flow stabilized and despite one more expected surge this evening, should slow completely within in the next 24 hours, assuming no rain. Meantime, the National Guard and others keep watch. Greer says water in the spillway peaked at 1.2 feet last night, around 9 pm. The extra water is from overland flooding.