February 19, 2009

Record snowfall awakens Beulah's memory of swollen Knife

The Knife River has been quiet for 12 years. This winters record snowfall has many people drawing comparisons to 1997, and local officials honing disaster preparedness plans.

"The families that experienced flooding in ’97 should take precautions against flooding this year," Richard Sorensen, Mercer County emergency manager, said. "There is enough snow to cause a problem if there is a high temperature event (like there was in 1997)."

Sorensen said before the ’97 flood there was 36 hours of high temperatures that caused a rapid snow melt that the river couldn’t handle.

"The known is the snow cover," Sorensen said. "Snow depth is a little higher than it was in ’97. The unknown is how fast the runoff will be."

The county and the cities of Beulah and Hazen pooled an order for 30,000 sandbags this year, and plan to make them available to citizens at a cost of 12 cents a bag. The county will have sand available at the county shop in Beulah. The bags are scheduled to be available after Tuesday.

"We’re trying to make plans to be prepared," Sorensen said. "We hope they’re not needed but they’re on hand in case they are. It doesn’t take too many sandbags to seal a window well."

The Weather Network