Heavy rain brings back flooding problems to ND

Wednesday, June 17th 2009, 11:28 am
By: News 9

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Heavy rain pounded flood-weary North Dakota for a second day Tuesday, swamping streets, stressing storm sewers and stalling vehicles. Roads were shut down, and the roof of a bowling alley collapsed under the weight of water.
   The National Weather Service said its reports ranged from 5.6 inches at the Bismarck airport since Monday to more than 7 inches east of the city with about an inch falling in an hour Tuesday afternoon.
   "I don't remember us getting this much water," said Bismarck public works spokesman Bob Stenehjem. "The rain clouds just keep circling around Bismarck. They aren't going away."
   The owner of Midway Lanes Bowling Alley in Mandan, Jim Mellon, said about 50 people got out of the building safely after the roof caved in sometime after 8:30 p.m. Monday, when the area got about 6 inches of rain. He said no one was hurt. Mellon estimated the damage at up to $2 million, and said 20 lanes at the bowling alley likely will have to be replaced.
   Also damaged were a liquor store, an insurance office and a trophy shop in the building.
   The storm brought back memories of March and April, when rivers and streams flooded across North Dakota, pushed by heavy rain, snow and ice. Fargo, in the eastern part of the state, was threatened by the Red River. In Bismarck, huge ice jams on the Missouri River forced evacuation of an estimated 1,700 residents and crews used plastic explosives to move the ice and get the water flowing.
   "The bright side is, we're not dealing with the ice this time," Burleigh County Commission Chairman Jim Peluso said. "So the water is doing what it's supposed to do. It's backing up where it's supposed to. We don't have any surprises like we did in March and April."
   The National Weather Service said Apple Creek, east of Bismarck, could set a record at 17 feet, about 2 feet above flood stage. County authorities said sandbags would be available.
   The storm also brought the threat of tornadoes. A tornado watch was out for south central North Dakota early Tuesday night, and a flood watch also was issued for Dickey, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh and Stutsman counties in southeastern North Dakota through Tuesday night.
   The National Weather Service said Bismarck's 3.2 inches of rain Monday topped the mark of just over 3 inches set on the same date in 1953. A flood warning continued for Burleigh County, eastern Morton County and northern Kidder County until 1 a.m. Wednesday.
   Elsewhere Tuesday, storms brought heavy rains, wind and tornadoes to the nation's midsection, and knocked out power to thousands. Reports of funnel clouds surfaced in South Dakota's Stanley County, and two tornadoes touched down in central and western Nebraska.
   In southwest Kansas, high winds picked up a tractor-trailer rig and tossed it from the highway. The driver was not injured. The National Weather Service said it was hard to tell whether tornadoes or straight-line winds were to blame for some damage in that state, where winds reached up to 80 or 90 mph.