BUXTON, N.D. – Traill County Commission President Ronald Peterson, surveying his flooded county Thursday, said it could take at least a week to add up all the damage.
"The water is not going down very rapidly," Peterson said. "We're driving by a corn field now that's probably 4 feet high, and we've got water more than 2 feet deep in it.
"Nature put the water here, and now we're going to have to let her take it away," he said.
A foot or more of rain fell on Buxton, a town of about 325 people, from about midnight until noon Wednesday, and there were unofficial estimates of as much as 15 inches east of the town, along Interstate 29.
Buxton Mayor Gene Rosholt, who owns an excavation business, kept his equipment busy. He was running a front-end loader, ferrying sandbags.
Most homes in the town fought only basement flooding. But Ernest Hettervig's farm home, 5 miles east, was filled to the main floor by water and fuel oil, said his son, Marty Hettervig, who lives nearby.
"In the northern part of our county, the two townships that border Grand Forks County — at one point or another in those two townships, on every road running north or south, the water's gone over it some place," Peterson said. "People have to be very creative as to where they go and how they get there."
In Grand Forks County, Emergency Manager James Campbell said a half-dozen homes needed minor sandbagging and some roads were under water. The Red River was rising toward a projected crest of around 44 feet, or 16 feet above flood stage, next week, but that level was still within the city dike system, Campbell said.
American Crystal Sugar Co. officials said they might eliminate the co-op's pre-pile harvest to give sugar beets more growing time. A decision could come at the end of the month, said David Berg, the company's vice president for agriculture.
"There's an awful lot of beets under water," Berg said.
Farmers who grow sugar beets for the Moorhead-based cooperative planted a total of about 514,000 acres this year. The company had projected about 25,000 acres of spoiled beets before this week's storms, and Berg said he had no immediate estimate of the storm damage.
The pre-pile harvest usually starts the first week of September and involves about 10 percent of the beet acreage. It is designed to start slicing beets at the co-op's five factories a month before the full-scale harvest starts.
"At this point, we have sufficient supply of beets to run all five factories," Berg said. "We need to make the best decision we can, but we have no plans to idle a factory."
Clyde Soderberg figures about 80 percent of his 1,600 acres of crops were lost in the deluge.
"Everything standing in water for more than 24 hours is fairly well gone," Soderberg said. "I farm a little more than 1,600 acres. I would have to say 1,200 to 1,300 is completely gone, or will be.
"I'd like to go fishing," he said Wednesday, "but I can't stand the sight of water anymore."