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Dangers remain as Minot waits for flooded Souris River to recede

The Souris River began a slow retreat Sunday from Minot with no further flood damage in the city, but officials warned danger would remain for several days until the highest water passed.

"We're still at full alert until the water starts going down," said Shannon Bauer, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "It's still a war."

The city's levees were reinforced with plastic sheeting to help them withstand the sustained exposure to high water. Forecasts called for the Souris to fall nearly 2 feet by Wednesday.

More than 4,000 homes and hundreds of businesses were flooded after the Souris flowed over levees Friday. Bauer said crews had dealt only with isolated problems since then, including a leaky dike that was reinforced Saturday night.

About a fourth of Minot's 40,000 residents were evacuated early last week in anticipation of flooding. Smaller cities along the Souris also warned their residents to leave. The Corps was sandbagging in Sawyer and Velva, two small downstream towns of just a few hundred people, that face crests later this week.

Sunday, North Dakota National Guard soldiers were monitoring a submerged pedestrian bridge in Minot to make sure it didn't break off in the river channel. The bridge has been trapping debris and could harm nearby levees. David Sprynczynatyk, guard commander, said soldiers were ready to pull it out if it came loose.

Once the Souris recedes, Minot will begin tackling the job of rebuilding.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved individual assistance for Burleigh and Ward counties, which have some of the state's most extensive flooding damage. Gov. Jack Dalrymple is pushing for expanding the designation to 20 other counties as well as the Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Spirit Lake Sioux reservations.

The state has a $386 million "rainy day" fund and $136 million in school aid reserves that could be used for disaster relief if lawmakers agree.

North Dakota wasn't the only state dealing with flooding issues. In Nebraska, a berm holding the flooded Missouri River back from a nuclear power station collapsed early Sunday. Federal regulators said they were monitoring the situation and there was no danger.

The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, about 20 miles north of Omaha, shut down in early April for refueling, and no water is inside the plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

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