March 26, 2009

Flood of 2009

On the morning of March 24, 2009, the Knife River was higher than it had ever been.

Edwin Oster could tell by the post of his mailbox.

"It was just about halfway up the post," Oster said Wednesday morning. "There’s still a chunk of ice hanging on it."

To back up Oster’s observation, United States Geological Survey personnel measured the Knife River at 31.4 feet Tuesday morning in Hazen – over 4 feet higher than the river’s measured crest in Hazen on March 23, 1997. The measurement might have been skewed by ice jams, however, as Hazen emergency workers measured the river’s crest at 27.26 – still above the mark set in 1997.

Oster, 95, lives just south of Hazen along County Road 27, and grew up on a house to the north.

"That’s the highest I’ve ever seen it," he said. "It never has gotten this high before."

By Tuesday evening, the water was beginning to recede across Mercer County, with reports of floodwater levels dropping several feet in various areas, Mercer County Emergency Manager Richard Sorenson said.

Though the water was still over County Road 27 as of Wednesday morning, blocking his way into Hazen, Oster had enough food and supplies to last him.

"I knew this was coming," he said. "I went to the store last week and prepared for it."

The first reports of flooding along Antelope Creek north of Hazen came at about midnight March 18, said Mercer County Highway Superintendent Roy Braun. The county highway department and county officials responded, using a track hoe to open an ice jam of a bridge along County Road 9.

The Weather Network