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Heavy rains result in drainage issues in Bismarck, Mandan

Heavy rains result in drainage issues in Bismarck, Mandan


Drainage issues, exacerbated by high water levels on the Missouri River, resulted in flooded streets in Bismarck and Mandan following intense rain Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

Michelle Klose, Bismarck's director of utility operations, confirmed the flooding was caused by the two rain events that occurred within 12 hours of one another and increased water in the Missouri River resulting from a record snowmelt in Montana. More rain was anticipated to fall overnight and end Wednesday morning, according to meteorologist Tyler Kranz with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.

"If the river levels weren't as high, we wouldn't be seeing as much impact," she said. "It's just harder for us to move water out of the streets within Bismarck."

The rainfall flooded the Ninth Street and Seventh Street underpasses in Bismarck and caused some streets to be covered in standing water, including South 12th Street, Bismarck Expressway, Basin Avenue and a few other streets.

Vehicles flounder

About a dozen vehicles were stalled on Bismarck Expressway Tuesday morning and had to be towed.

The storms — the first round around 10 p.m. Monday and the second at about 4 a.m. Tuesday — dropped 1.92 inches of rain at the Bismarck Municipal Airport, according to the National Weather Service in Bismarck.

Because the Missouri River is so high, Burleigh County recently closed the Tavis Flood Control Structure to prevent river water from entering the city. As a result, it is taking longer to pump water out, according to Klose.

"Basically, that water is still stacked up in there until there is room in the drainage ditch. Once the drainage ditch starts moving lower, then we'll actually start seeing the levels within those underpasses drawing down," Klose said on Tuesday.

If more rain were to fall, this could mean more flooding is likely, though Klose said she is confident water levels in the underpasses will drop and there will be more storage available in the city's drainage ditch for the next rain event.

Wind gusts recorded

Heavy winds accompanied the storms Monday night and Tuesday morning. The Bismarck Municipal Airport recorded a 62-mph wind gust, there was a 66-mph gust 4 miles south of Mandan, and, 2 miles east of Moffit, a 91-mph wind gust was recorded. In Emmons County, the roof was blown off Bakker School.

Damage reports continue to be gathered, according to Kranz. On his way to work Tuesday at about 6 a.m., Kranz said his vehicle got stuck in knee-deep water on Bismarck Expressway. He counted about 12 vehicles that got stuck before Bismarck police blocked off the road.

"We were all just completely stuck and had to get towed out," Kranz said.

Artistic setbacks

Mandan’s Art in the Park faced a "minor setback" Tuesday after the storms' high winds tore down tents and blew away canopies, exposing vendors' goods to the elements.

Rather than calling off the event, organizers, vendors and volunteers worked hard to pick up the pieces and set up new tents, and shoppers began milling and making purchases around noon Tuesday, three hours later than the designated start time.

"There have been a lot of volunteers that have come down and helped with the cleanup and helped with setting things back up. Everyone has been so very helpful," said Del Wetsch, executive director of the Mandan Progress Organization. "We're really, really impressed."

Before the storms hit, 134 booths were set up at Dykshoorn and Heritage parks to sell goods. Most of the vendors were able to purchase new canopies and stay, but a few had to pack up and leave because the items they planned to sell were damaged beyond repair. An estimated 100 vendors remain, according to Wetsch.

The storm resulted in two large roll-off dumpsters full of destroyed canopies and tents.

"It was a minor setback, but we're ready to go and have a great event," Wetsch said. "Come out and enjoy the Fourth of July."

Golf courses flooded

Strong winds and heavy rains caused damage to the Riverwood and Pebble Creek golf courses in Bismarck.

Minor debris was strewn about Riverwood Golf Course, and one tree was knocked down due to high winds.

Flooding was "significant" on both courses, according to Timothy Doppler, golf operations manager with the Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. Riverwood received over an inch of rain between 5 and 6 a.m. Tuesday.

"We are completely inundated with water," Doppler said, referring to the Riverwood Golf Course. "There’s water in spots where we normally don’t see water, because we got so much rain in such a little amount of time. The course isn’t playable."

Riverwood closed to the public Tuesday with plans to reopen Wednesday, so long as there are no additional downpours.

At Pebble Creek, the holes north of Century Avenue will be closed until the water recedes. Holes seven, eight and nine are open.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or


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