WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 14, 2011, 08:52 AM

Property owners scramble to protect their homes from breakouts

Kindred, ND (WDAY TV) - The flood fight is kicking into action mode once again in Cass County. This time it is rural Kindred, along the Sheyenne River. Property owners are scrambling to shore-up protection before the swelling river swallows even more properties in its path.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

The rising Sheyenne River appears to be leveling here in Kindred after cresting earlier today, but the bigger concern, breakouts. Those are already happening and they are unexpectedly flooding fields and threatening farmsteads.

Tucked between tree branches and thick brush, Harlan Smeby is on the lookout. The 77-year old is trying to outdue the unpredictable Sheyenne River. Breakouts began overnight, which sent water gushing onto his land, just outside Kindred. The force is washing out this rural road.

You can call Harlan a lone ranger. He's patrolling his property, keeping a watchful eye on water. It's reached the top of his ring dike, even seeping underneath it and into his yard.

Two pumps are working around the clock, but a leaky hose is only making matters worse for Harlan and his wife, Alletta. It's the scary reality that his dike may not hold.

The National Guard arrived in the knick of time. Within hours, they were building extra sandbag protection around the Smeby's house. A place they've called home since 1962.

And it's Harlan's love of country living that has him fighting to stay. A battle, even a river won't win.

Harlan says the water is already higher than 2009 on his property. He's even brought out his boat in case his only way out becomes that mode of transportation.

The snow on the way is throwing a curve ball to people along the Sheyenne River. About 250 concerned homeowners came to a meeting in Kindred tonight.

Engineers are trying to figure out how long the river will stay this high. Right now, 5900 cubic feet per second is flowing through Kindred. The record and most CFS possible is 6000 in the town. Engineers say the water still on the way from Baldhill Dam will affect the breakouts

CHAD ENGELS - Moore Engineering: “Prior to the snowfall we were expecting something less than 2009 now with the snowfall entering the system it's just an unknown.”

Engineers are telling people to prepare for elevations like 2009. Drivers are dealing with difficult travels on a wet roadway near Davenport. Cass County Road 16, east of County Road 15, is closed by breakout water from the Sheyenne.