Souris River crests in flooded Minot, North Dakota

MINOT, N.D., June 26 Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:42pm EDT

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MINOT, N.D., June 26 (Reuters) - The Souris River crested at historic heights in the North Dakota city of Minot on Sunday but emergency levees held, providing respite to officials battling to keep areas dry.

The Souris, which flows from Canada southeast into North Dakota, rose early on Sunday morning to almost four feet (1.2 meters) above the 130-year-old record it shattered on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

There have been no reported deaths or injuries in the biggest flood in area history but floodwaters have all but swallowed more than 3,000 homes and displaced more than 12,000 Minot-area residents.

Minot is the state's fourth largest city.

"Even though this crest has passed, there is still a tremendous amount of water," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Jeffrey DeZellar said.

DeZellar added that rain dumped by thunderstorms late on Saturday had pooled in shallow ponds on the land-side of some area levees, forcing workers to wade or drive through them.

The storms did not cause any of the flood water to swell over levees.

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said water levels will remain high for several days and praised the fortitude of the residents displaced by mandatory evacuations.

Officials' attention has turned to displaced residents, more than 12,000 of whom heeded mandatory evacuation calls.

Some moved in with friends or family, but more than 250 people were holed up in Red Cross shelters at a city auditorium and Minot State University or at the Minot Air Force Base.

The massive flooding in Minot has overshadowed temporarily the widening deluge along the Missouri River that threatens cities all the way from Montana to Missouri.

Federal officials have pushed record water releases from six reservoirs along the Upper Missouri River that are near capacity because of a deep melting snowpack and heavy rains.

Those reservoirs have little capacity for additional rain, and record releases are expected to continue through August, causing widespread flooding in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

Heavy rains across the Souris River Basin left Canadian reservoirs over capacity. Water rushing down from Canada has forced U.S. officials to make record-large releases from the Lake Darling Dam above Minot and other communities. (Writing by Eric Johnson; Editing by Tim Gaynor)

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