States of emergency have been declared for the state of Montana and 21 counties in North Dakota and two Indian reservations, including Barnes, Benson, Burleigh, Cass, Emmons, Eddy, Grand Forks, Mercer, McLean, Morton, Nelson, Oliver, Pembina, Ramsey, Ransom, Richland, Sioux, Towner, Traill, Walsh and Ward Counties and the reservations of the Spirit Lake Nation and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
President David Gipp of United Tribes Technical College reports, “We are in the midst of assisting the Bismarck community in preparations for coming floods, primarily along the Missouri River and if it continues to rise, as we are being told, as far into the Kirkwood Mall area or further. This is the result of overflows and increases in flowage from Ft. Peck Dam and the Garrison Dam, and other tributary runoff going into the Missouri. Ft. Peck Dam is flowing over already. The Montana spring melt is barely beginning. We have employees and students who live in various areas in the flood zones.”
Students and staff at UTTC have been working hard to assist with the situation. Gipp reports they were relieved of their duties since last week to volunteer to make sandbags and place them in preparation, because as the water rises from the Missouri and the big Missouri River Basin dams created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that took Indian lands from Montana to the Dakotas and Nebraska, it threatens everyone in the water’s path.
“We need an ark,” Gipp said in a note to American Indian College Fund staff. “All the camels, cats, and birds and other animals located at the zoo, along the river, are being trucked to a South Dakota zoo. We are told the waters will remain high until June or July. The Corps is not saying how high.”
The United Tribe Campus is on high ground, above most of Bismarck and all are safe so far, and the campus is serving as a temporary shelter for evacuees who might have to stay in the gym, multipurpose room, and other areas. Many are American Indian residents, but all are welcome who need help. Gipp reports the campus needs assistance for purchasing emergency generators in case the school should lose power, bedding, and other emergency gear.