WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 11, 2011, 08:52 AM

Interstate closure brings freeway frenzy to small town living

Harwood, ND (WDAY TV) - With the closure of Interstate 29, thousands today were forced to take I-94 west in order to head north. It meant a constant flow of traffic through some of the quieter parts of Cass County, where small town living was not prepared for a freeway frenzy.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

“Unfortunately, to get back home, go back to Interstate 94.”

ND state trooper gave folks from Canada the bad news.

“Go west to Casselton and then north on state Highway 18.”

Not only is our water headed your way, but the only way north is west. Detour and road closed signs near Harwood reflect the depth of the problem. And from the air, you can see the scope of the flooding. Interstate 29 surrounded; and Interstate 29 under.

And so in Casselton, traffic plugged the heart of downtown, trains, trucks, and cars all driving on a makeshift interstate. But it would be in the sleepy, cozy farm town of Hunter on State 18 where the heavy traffic would really leave a memorable mark.

“Things on my wall were vibrating. It was so hectic.”

Usually, you can just hear the grain elevator equipment humming. A few farm trucks passing through. Today however...

PENNY JOHNSON - Hunter Resident: “You could count the cars in an hour, how many come thru, it is pretty quiet. Now, it is crazy.”

It is quite the change of pace for people living here in Hunter. What with no stop signs and stop lights. People are used to owning the road. Inside Deb Tarvestad's Hunter Cafe, they were not only talking about her fresh strawberry pie, but the traffic.

DEB TARVESTAD - Hunter Café: “When I came at 4:45 this morning, I had to put a blinker on.”

Thousands of strangers were heading through town. One of those out-of-staters is DeAnn Bjornson, who found herself in detour traffic, and loving what she saw.

DeAnn BJORNSON - Moving Here from Florida: “We lived in Fargo and NE Florida and our goal to move back to raise our children and we are house hunting and excited to get back here. The way people from here deal with the situation it is amazing, speaks volumes for the character of the people of these communities.”

There is nothing like a detour to give visitors some fresh ND country air and an ocean of water to welcome them. Deputies with Cass County along with the North Dakota state patrol are cracking down on those speeding through the smaller towns on the detour route.