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Harwood residents affected again by overland water from Sheyenne

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HARWOOD, N.D. - Overland flooding isolated DeAnn and Troy Diegel's home here for six weeks in spring 2009. Now, the Diegels and other Harwood residents are reluctantly waiting for it to happen again.

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The Sheyenne River burst its banks Thursday morning near Cass County Road 20, driving water overland more than a mile away in some places.

The Diegels' home just west of Cass County 17 is more than a half-mile north of County 20. By 10 a.m. Thursday, the overland flooding was lapping against snowbanks about a dozen feet from the Diegels' garage.

Troy Diegel said he expected their road - 48th Avenue North - would be under water by the end of Thursday, leaving them marooned.

"Normally, that's an alfalfa field, but once it breaks out on County 20, it just comes this way," Diegel said, pointing to the open area south of his home that now resembles a vast lake.

Stretches of County roads 17 and 20 in Harwood had between 3 and 6 inches of water rushing across the roadway by midmorning Thursday. Passage was still possible then, although Cass County deputies were monitoring the road's conditions.

Water also was migrating across other roadways around Harwood, including portions of 52nd and 170th avenues north.

The Diegels' home is high enough that the water ­didn't affect it last year, but they have to make some adjustments in advance of the overland flooding - such as penning their two potbelly pigs in the garage.

But the biggest problem they face is losing road access for weeks at a time - a situation many other Harwood residents also deal with and likely will again in the next hours and days.

Harwood Mayor Bill Rohrich believes the city is prepared in advance of the Sheyenne River's expected crest of 891.5 feet, which the National Weather Service predicted would occur at 1 a.m. today. The river is forecasted to stay for the next week at that level, which is about a half-foot short of the 1997 record-level crest.

The Sheyenne River rose just above major flood stage of 891.04 feet by noon Thursday.

Unlike last year, lanes of Interstate 29 near Harwood likely won't succumb to overland flooding. The Department of Transportation elevated a stretch of the interstate, which should prevent similar problems this year.

Meanwhile, the Diegels and others in that neighborhood expect to park their cars on County 17 and take canoes and boats to and from their homes once the overland flooding hits.

After experiencing floods like 2009 and facing the prospect of more weeks of canoeing in and out of their home, the Diegels said they've considered moving.

"Summer comes and we love it out here, but we forget about the flood," DeAnn Diegel said. "We're in an island once the flood hits. You can't get in; you can't get out. You're stuck."

Troy Diegel said he favors a North Dakota diversion for permanent flood protection, but even that would still be years away from helping them.

"And how many more years is it going to keep doing this? ... It wears on you," he said.

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