« Continuity of Operations Planning

North Dakota flooding prompts residential evacuation

Heavy rains prompted one North Dakota town to temporarily evacuate 1,300 residents.
Heavy rains prompted one North Dakota town to temporarily evacuate 1,300 residents.

Severe weather is a perfect example of why cities and towns should have an up to date continuity of operations plan. When residents and business owners need to quickly leave an area for their own safety, the process will be much smoother when all individuals understand where they need to go and how to get themselves there.

In some cases, tabletop exercises can be beneficial, as this will ensure that all parties know the best evacuation route and can stay out of the way of emergency responders.

One North Dakota town recently put its evacuation methods to the test, as the threat of a possible dam failure forced officials to call for 1,300 residents to pack up and leave their homes. According to the Associated Press, individuals in Cavalier, North Dakota were told to evacuate last Thursday, May 23, but that many of them could return in 24 hours.

Five days of heavy rain put strain on an emergency spillway near the Renwick Dam. Additionally, the lake behind the dam had risen 17 feet in that time span.

Pembina County emergency manager Andrew Kirking told the news source that residents were allowed to return to their homes as of 7 a.m. on Friday, May 24. The water was receding at a rate of 1.25 inches per hour, but Kirking urged individuals to still be cautious. 

"We want to make it clear, they are still in somewhat of a dangerous situation, with overland flooding, and the flooding has not receded off the emergency levee," he said. "We do want them to come in to monitor their homes, with the understanding that they may need to evacuate again [should conditions worsen]."