| MINNEAPOLIS, June 3
MINNEAPOLIS, June 3 Hundreds of people in North
Dakota and South Dakota evacuated affluent areas along the
swollen Missouri River on Friday as federal officials stepped
up water releases to relieve pressure on six reservoirs.
Heavy rains coupled with a deep melting snowpack have
swelled Missouri River reservoirs from Montana through South
Dakota to near capacity. Residents in Nebraska, Iowa and
Missouri also were braced for widespread flooding.
"The Missouri River will be high for the rest of the
summer," said John Grothaus, chief of planning in the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers' Kansas City district.
About 400 people from upscale neighborhoods in Bismarck,
North Dakota's capital, were evacuating and South Dakota
Governor Dennis Daugaard urged residents of the "country club"
area of Dakota Dunes to leave by midnight.
Workers in Bismarck were finishing a series of levees on
Friday as federal water managers ramped up spills upstream from
Garrison Dam, officials said.
The Army Corps of Engineers increased the flow through the
Oahe Dam above Pierre, South Dakota's capital, on Friday. The
river level is expected to rise about four feet (1.2 metres) as
releases accelerate to maximum planned levels by Tuesday.
Flows from most Missouri River reservoirs already were at
record levels on Friday and the accelerated releases will add
several feet to the high river levels deep into July.
The maximum planned release rates are expected to push the
Missouri River up to seven feet (2.1 metres) above flood stage
at Sioux City, Omaha and Kansas City.
The governors of Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska have been
surveying areas already flooding along the Missouri River.
Officials stopped short of mandatory evacuations in South
Dakota. Police and National Guard members will go door-to-door
in Dakota Dunes to warn residents who stay that the risks will
rise with the water, utilities will be cut off eventually and
they may not be able to leave later.
In Montana, the Corps increased water flows from Fort Peck
Dam, while widespread flooding of Missouri tributaries has
forced hundreds of evacuations and inundated smaller cities.
"We've had floods in the past, we've had disasters in the
past, but we've never had anything that spreads from border to
border like this," said Monique Lay, spokeswoman for Montana
Disaster and Emergency Services.
The Missouri River basin forms the northwest section of the
Mississippi River system that stretches from the Rockies to
western New York and funnels water down through Louisiana to
the Gulf of Mexico.
The Corps held water in the Missouri reservoirs to reduce
the impact from record Mississippi River flooding earlier this
(Additional reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho, and
Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Jerry Norton and John