BlaKE NICHOlSON associated press Writer BISMARCK, N.D.
An ice jam clogging the Missouri River north of Bismarck ruptured this morning, sending more water flowing toward the city where flooding already had led to some evacuations. The Nat ional Weathe r Service issued a flash flood warning for a three-county area after the ice jam broke. "What you have now is water rushing from the ice jam that is to the north. We could see a rapid rise of 1 or 2 feet in water levels," said weather service meteorologist Joshua Scheck. Officials had already called for more volunteers to help with sandbagging as record amounts of water poured into the Missouri River from its tributaries. National Guard members flew over the river this morning to assess the flooding conditions and the possibility of dropping explosives to break up another ice jam, south of the city, that was backing up water in the metropolitan area. Some of the ice is in 3-footthick chunks, as big as a small car, and it will be tough to get them moving, assistant state Water Commission engineer Todd Sando said this morning. The call for volunteers today in Bismarck was made after residents of low-lying subdivisions in Bismarck and Mandan were told to leave their homes as access roads flooded. Fox Island residents Jane and Michael Pole didn't need much prodding to evacuate. "We just grabbed a bag, threw some stuff in and left," Jane Pole said. Some 200 miles east of Bismarck, officials also called for more sandbagging volunteers in Fargo, and its cross-river neighbor, Moorhead, Minn., where the Red River was projected to crest at 39 to 41 feet Friday evening. It had risen to 34 feet by early today. The record for Fargo is 39.6 feet set in the 1997 flood. Officials said the flood threat intensified when the region was struck Tuesday by the blizzard that had shut down wide areas of the northern Plains. President Barack Obama declared North Dakota a federal disaster area, which means the federal government will pay 75 percent of state and local government costs for the flood fight.