Commission declares flooding emergency

By Anna Jauhola
As spring flooding was nearing its peak on Tuesday, April 14, the Kittson County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency.
“Interestingly enough, Drayton recorded 43.2 feet this morning,” said Scot Olson, emergency manager for Kittson County, of the Red River. “That’s significant in the fact it eclipsed last year’s number of 42.46 and is now the fourth-highest level on record at Drayton.
The Red River at Drayton crested on Friday, April 17 at 43.02 feet. But the water level is expected to remain high for another five days or so, Olson said.
County highway crews have been hard at work making sure road closed signs are up and monitoring potential locations where flooding will occur. On Tuesday, County Road 1 from Hallock to State Highway 11 was open, but many other roads like County Roads 7 and 16, as well as State Highway 175 were all closed due to water over the road.
“Right now, there are 57 miles of roads in the county underwater,” Olson said. “Shawn (Anderson) and his crew have been doing a fantastic job of keeping everything closed.”
Their main issues will be dealing with water overtopping gravel roads, culvert blowouts and flood debris, Olson added.
So far, all officials in townships affected have been taking photos of floodwaters and Olson has continued to encourage them to take pictures as waters recede and damage appears.
“That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s not going to be a federal flood,” Olson said.
Three other counties have approved disaster declarations, which makes this a state emergency and ensures 75/25 reimbursement.
The county highway department filled 600 sandbags last week and sent about 200 to the border. Olson said Pembina, N.D., and Emerson, Man., officials aren’t overly concerned and feel they have the situation covered.
Major flood stage at Pembina is 49 feet, and on Monday the gauge recorded 48.85 feet. By Monday, the gauge hit 50.5 feet.
In other business, the commission:
• Accepted Amanda Rynning’s resignation from the Kittson County Extention office and approved to advertise for her replacement in the position. Rynning will be moving to the Kittson County Farm Service Agency office.
• Heard from Marc Rood with RtVision, a company through which the county purchased a digital Timecard program in 2018. Rood discussed the GovAP program that would help eliminate paper in the accounts payable department at the courthouse. Shirley Swenson, financial accounting specialist, will be looking into GovAP and another program through a separate company to see which one is better.

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