Minnesota Town Battles 'Flood of Our Lives'

Volunteers and National Guard troops piled more sandbags Wednesday to protect homes and businesses as the Roseau River stood at a record level.

Water was 4 to 5 feet deep in parts of the town in far northwestern Minnesota.

The National Weather Service said about a third of an inch of rain fell early Wednesday on top of the 5 to 12 inches the area had received since the weekend. More showers were forecast for later Wednesday and Thursday.

Flooding also covered roads and fields in nearby parts of North Dakota and Manitoba.

Roseau homeowner Robert Muirhead sent his wife and children to stay with relatives in a nearby town but refused their pleas that he join them.

"I won't leave without a fight, I said," Muirhead said. He said he was winning his struggle to protect his new home after staying up for two days shoveling and sandbagging.

The river was at just over 23 feet Wednesday morning and the National Weather Service projected a crest of 24 feet sometime later in the day. The previous record was 21.1 feet, set in 1996.

Flood stage is 16 feet and the city's levee system was designed to hold back the river only to about 22 feet. On Tuesday, a sandbag dike broke and spilled water into parts of the community of 2,500 people, some 10 miles south of the Canadian border.

Police asked for voluntary evacuations Tuesday, and a handful of people were ordered to leave because their homes were flooding and some of them were elderly, said officer Jeff Klein.

The National Guard was sent to help Roseau and the nine surrounding counties. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent water pumps, engineers and 80,000 sandbags.

The situation was better in Warroad -- 20 miles east of Roseau -- where the Warroad River went over its banks Monday but started receding Tuesday, Police Chief Laurence Wright said. About 20 households were evacuated.

A few miles from Roseau in southeastern Manitoba, flooding forced dozens of residents of Sprague to leave town by boat after a bridge washed out.

As the wet weather moved eastward, some roads were flooded early Wednesday in northern Vermont after more than 3 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. The National Weather Service posted a flood warning for northern Vermont.

In northeastern North Dakota, the weather service said the Red River was approaching flood stage at Drayton, and standing water also covered rural areas.

"Acre upon acre of farmland is under water," Pembina County, N.D., emergency manager Becky Ault said Tuesday.