Rice Lake in northern N.D. floods for fourth straight year

Farm Forum

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Property owners around Rice Lake in northcentral North Dakota are once again battling floods, and some are giving up the fight.

The lake where 167 people own property and 36 of them live year-round has risen 12 inches in 12 days because of snowmelt, according to Rice Lake Board Chairman Steve Zaun. It is the fourth straight year of flooding, and the lake has now damaged or destroyed about 30 homes.

“This is no more a flood. This is a war,” Zaun said. “I don’t know where the end of this war is.”

At least three year-round residents have left in the last month, said Lane Irwin, whose home remains dry.

“It’s not pretty out here,” he said. “It used to be a beautiful place. Now it’s not good at all.”

The road that rings the lake is being raised 2 feet, while the board awaits a judge’s decision in a lawsuit over easements from landowners to make way for a $6 million pipeline to drain excess water into a creek, according to the Minot Daily News and KXMC-TV. Opponents fear that could lead to flooding of agricultural land downstream. In the meantime, excess water is being pumped onto county-owned land under a lease agreement.

For some, any solution will come too late.

Jerome Hilson was forced to abandon his property — including his year-round home, which is now underwater — two years ago.

“We can’t fix it up, can’t sell it, can’t move it,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do. I am sure we probably never will go back.”