Threatening North Dakota dam may hold after all


The North Dakota town of Cavalier has been evacuated in the face of what looked like a dam failure, but residents may be able to return after all.

Residents of the small North Dakota town of Cavalier may be able to breathe a little easier: the stressed Renwick dam north of the community appeared to be holding steady after all, after the entire community was evacuated Tuesday. 

The town of 1,300 all decamped late Tuesday after authorities became concerned that heavy rainfall from last Friday until Tuesday had dumped too much water into the 1961-built Renwick dam, wrote the Associated Press, placing the community in danger of flood.

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Late Wednesday, the evacuation order remained in effect, but things were looking up. “We’re still going up, but at a very low rate,” said Cavalier City Council member Allen Anderson to the Dickinson Press. “Everything is holding. The dams are all running at full capacity, but they’re running as they’re designed.”

County Emergency Manager Andrew Kirking had a more measured response, noting that he was "cautiously optimistic" to the Associated Press, but adding "Should we have a catastrophic failure, the worst-case scenario, we would see a massive amount of water... We could see a foot of standing water in the six miles from (the dam) to Cavalier."

All but a dozen odd citizens of Cavalier followed the evacuation order, noted the Dickinson Press, and an emergency shelter that was opened to recieve evacuees by the Red Cross had no takers and eventually shuttered — a development those familar with the friendly community didn't find too surprising. 

“That’s not unusual for North Dakota," said volunteer shelter manager Nancy Young to the Dickinson paper. "We even had three people from town here come in and say, ‘Here’s my number, and here’s my address if anybody needs a place to stay.’”

Officials plan to meet Thursday morning and figure out when residents can begin to come home, notes the Houston Chronicle.