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Be Prepared For Flooding in Rural Areas

Floodwaters are threatening this Barnes County farm structure. (NDSU photo) Floodwaters are threatening this Barnes County farm structure. (NDSU photo)
Flooding may be a problem some rural North Dakota areas this spring.

The forecast is for a rapid warmup starting the last weekend of March, which will cause a rapid thaw, releasing the water in the snow cover.

“This may cause flooding in some rural areas,” says Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension agricultural engineer. “Now is the time to prepare before water is accumulating on the farmstead.”

Here is some advice from NDSU Extension on how to protect rural residences and other structures, livestock and stored grain from flooding:

Protecting Your Home and Other Structures

Do the following based on the probability of flooding or wet conditions:

  • Test your sump pump to make sure it is operating properly.
  • Move snow away from building foundations.
  • Build small ditches to divert water away from your property.
  • Build a dike around your home or other structure. See NDSU Extension publication AE626, “Sandbagging for Flood Protection,” for information on the correct way to build a dike. It’s available online at
  • Put appliances such as washers, dryers and freezers in basements up on wood or cement blocks if flooding is threatening.
  • Shut off power to flood-threatened electrical appliances at the fuse box or breaker panel.
  • Move valuables, such as irreplaceable family photos, high school yearbooks, tax records, insurance policies, household inventories, and hazardous material, such as agricultural chemicals, paint, oil and cleaning supplies, to higher locations.
  • If your septic system’s drain field will become flooded or saturated, plug all basement drains and drastically reduce water use in the house or any other water entering the septic system. Unbolt toilets from the floor to plug the outlet pipe.
  • Tie down fuel tanks and other equipment or material to keep it from floating away in floodwaters.
  • Use material such as heavy plastic and duct tape to seal your well cap and top of the well casing to keep floodwaters out.
  • Have an emergency power source, such as a standby generator.
  • Assemble emergency supplies in case roads become impassible.

Protecting Your Livestock, Feed and Grain

  • Be sure cattle are immunized properly in case they are exposed to floodwaters.
  • Verify adequate drainage around the farmstead and grain bins.
  • Move machinery, feed and grain to a higher elevation if possible.
  • Move livestock to higher ground.

For more information on preparing for a flood, visit the NDSU Extension flood information website at

NDSU Agriculture Communication - March 25, 2020

Source:Ken Hellevang, 701-231-7243,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391,
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