After a summer of unusually high rainfall followed by torrential September storms, the entire state of North Dakota is now completely submerged by a shallow lake. Most of the state’s 700,000 residents have been forced to seek higher ground in neighboring states as emergency crews assist with disaster efforts.
“I’ve never seen so much goddamn water in all my years,” exclaimed a 78-year-old farmer as he loaded his personal belongings into a flat-bottomed boat at his home near Fargo. “Hell, even the Red River flooding was never this bad.”
In fact, the almost perfectly flat Great Plains state hasn’t had this much water in over 10,000 years. The problem began in July as Devils Lake, the state’s largest, began swelling due to summer rains.
The flooded area now covers almost exactly the same geographical expanse as the ancient Lake Agassiz, which was created thousands of years ago by melting glaciers. The new lake, which averages about three feet in depth, has expanded across the entire state, washing out crops of wheat, corn and sunflowers in the process. The only terrain features not submerged are a few Badlands hilltops in the western part of the state.
Red Cross teams scoured the state in watercraft and helicopters, providing assistance to residents stranded atop houses, trees and grain silos. Massive evacuation orders were given in the cities of Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck, with National Guard troops sent in to help. Electricity and gas lines have been shut off statewide as an extra precaution. Fortunately, there were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries, as most evacuees were able to simply wade out of their homes.
The swelling lake has North Dakota’s neighbors on edge. South Dakota governor Mike Rounds has called on volunteers to help sand bag that state’s 400-mile-long border shared with its inundated neighbor.
“We don’t want any of that spilling over down here,” said Rounds in a press conference in Pierre. “We’ve got enough of our own problems, thank you very much.”
It is expected that the new lake will eventually be drained off by the Missouri River, and N.D. residents will be able to return to their homes in a month or two.