Printed in the August 2011 issue of Dakota Valley News Magazine. by Connie Krapp
Russell Remboldt used to drive four miles into town. These days, his trip to Gackle is often 27 miles, depending on recent rains and whether County Highway 87 is under water. His jaunts to Jamestown—or anywhere else, for that matter—have become quite a journey, too, thanks to roads that have become encroached with water.
But Russell is one of the lucky ones. The road from 87 to his farm is passable. Sure, he’s had to raise it himself three times this spring—and sometimes he’s had to drive in the field to get out. But at least he can get out. For months his neighbors Gordon and Kathleen Heller couldn’t drive off their farmstead at all; they were surrounded by water that took out their road. The condition of their road isn’t unique—so many of the roads in southern Stutsman County are submerged in water that it almost takes a professional navigator to get around. And Stutsman isn’t alone. Countless North Dakota counties have water woes and submerged roads. All across the south central portion of the state—from one end of Dakota Valley Electric’s service area to the other—roads, both gravel and black top, have become impassable. Farmers have lost land and access to it; farmsteads have been inundated. Communities have occasionally lost use of their parks; golf courses have lost holes, creeks are often swollen beyond their banks; wetlands have become lakes, reservoirs are full.