Dakota Datebook

Cloudburst

Friday, June 27, 2014

 

It’s just not North Dakota if there isn’t any weather-related news. After all, an agriculture-heavy area relies on the elements to aid in the well-being of the crops. Sometimes the weather is good…sometimes it’s not.

 

Such was the case on this date in 1914, as residents worked to recover and repair in the wake of a storm. The night before, around 6:00 on a Friday evening, a single roll of thunder marked the beginning of a torrential rainstorm that lasted at least three hours in the Bismarck-Mandan area. The storm appeared to be sweeping across the state, and came on quickly and fiercely. There was no warning, and little protection, no floodgates to protect an area that was located where the mighty Missouri once flowed. Reports out of Mandan stated that business people were stranded downtown, and the main business street on the east side was “waist deep” with water.

 

City residents couldn’t communicate with rural areas, and there swelled a growing sense of apprehension about the condition of the crops, as well as the fear of yet more water, with showers in the forecast.

 

In Bismarck, water standing in many streets was over a foot high. The sewer system couldn’t handle the sudden downfall, and water crept everywhere – into basements and into storage, causing damages worth hundreds of dollars. In a bit of a twist, firemen were called in to deal with the standing water.

 

Sections of the earth had washed out, and silt settled onto the sidewalks and into the lower areas of buildings. Sandbags were used to prop up the sidewalk at the First National Bank, and men and women were hard at work bailing water from their basements.

 

Trains from all of the rail lines were delayed, and some of tracks were wiped out, affecting travel, business, and communication.

 

Various bridges and culverts between Bismarck and Hartford in Emmons County were washed out. Peter Baker, a mail carrier in Livona, did make it to Bismarck, but said he had to ferry the mail across various bodies of water.

 

The storm moved with a vengeance, with reports that a cloudburst in Lanesboro, Minnesota, “made the village of 1,000 people a lake six feet deep.”

 

It just went to prove that in every life, a little rain may fall… but sometimes it can be a downpour.

 

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

Daily Bismarck Tribune, June 27, 1914

Daily Bismarck Tribune, June 28, 1914

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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