Rising Floodwaters Close Two of Three Bridges in Connecting Grand Forks, East Grand Forks

The Kennedy Bridge was built for a flood crest up to more than 50 feet

GRAND FORKS COUNTY, N.D. — The Red River is nearing 44 feet in Grand Forks and the forecasted crest is 48 feet on Friday.

Grand Forks built $400 million worth of permanent flood protection in 2007.

“We have 12 pump stations dedicated to flood protection, we have closures that go into our flood walls that involves closing roads but those go in closing gates, closing valves, opening gates, opening valves, all stuff that goes on underground,” said John Bernstrom, City of Grand Forks communications specialist.

As a result, the city doesn’t have to sandbag but two bridges have been closed, including the Sorlie Bridge and Point Bridge.
That only leaves the Kennedy Bridge on Gateway Drive open, which can handle a river crest of more than 50 feet.

“To put it into perspective, the flood of ’97 was 54 feet. So we’re a ways from that and projections don’t have us getting close to that,” Bernstrom said.

But Grand Forks is keeping an eye out on 100 homes in a neighborhood east of Belmont Road and North of Grand Forks Country Club that was annexed in 2015 and doesn’t have permanent flood protection.

“Our emergency services, fire, PD, work to stage things on a little coulee there that floods. So if something does happen, they don’t have to worry about getting a truck in or equipment there. There’s plans in place to get emergency personnel back and forth if they need it,” Bernstrom said.

Bernstrom says neighbors on the area were informed about no flood protection before they moved in. The city held a meeting for the neighborhood at the end of March to let them know about the flood waters they would see, but Bernstrom says most people will only see water on the road.

“They’re all build to an elevation to protect themselves from pretty high levels of water. What they lose is some road access,” Bernstrom said.

But Grand Forks County is seeing a lot of overland flooding. Deputies visited those living in more flood prone areas such as Manvel.

“We’ve gotten a couple of calls on that already but other than that, everyone has been pretty diligent on keeping a close eye where the water is in that area,” said Sgt. Kelly McLean with the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office.

The Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling areas where people have had to evacuate their homes to make sure no one takes advantage of an empty home.

Categories: Community, Flood Fight 2020, Local News, North Dakota News