Red River floods fields, but U.S. farmers ready

Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:26pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Record flooding in parts of the U.S. Red River Valley has slowed grain movement, but lake-like fields are nothing new to farmers who battle flooding on some scale each spring, industry officials said.

The Red River, which divides North Dakota and Minnesota, is slowly easing from its Saturday crest at Fargo-Moorhead that left widespread flooding in fields north of the city.

Every year, farmers in the valley all but halt deliveries of stored crops to handling facilities due to muddy or flooded yards and roads, said Cory Tryan, grain department manager of Alton Grain Terminal at Hillsboro, North Dakota.

"It's normal, (farmers) make sure those bins are empty going into every spring," Tryan said. "I don't think there's anyone caught with their pants down -- if there is, there shouldn't have been."

No major breaches in Fargo-Moorhead's dikes have been reported, and the focus turned to rural communities that sit as islands within a series of lakes that have emerged.

Emergency crews used high-wheeled vehicles and airboats to reach residents.

"It's treacherous out there," said Captain Dan Murphy of the North Dakota National Guard.

Interstate 29, the highway that runs parallel to the Red River in North Dakota, was closed for more than 30 miles from Fargo north to Hillsboro because of flooding.   Continued...