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Morning downpour floods West Fargo streets

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Betty Halvorson is accustomed to flash floods in her West Fargo neighborhood.

She's lived near 14th Avenue South and Sixth Street East for seven years, seeing the intersection inundated three times.

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Thursday's flood brought a first, though. More than a foot of standing water on her street swept away the trash put out on the boulevard for weekly pickup.

"Mine is the big black bag that's heavier than heavy over there," said Halvorson, pointing across the corner to a higher spot where several bags had run aground.

She wasn't the only one in West Fargo battling a waterlogged street Thursday. A morning downpour flooded many of the city's main roads and residential areas. Several portions of 13th Avenue South were closed to traffic at midday, making the typically busy main drag look more like a canal than a road.

Widespread flash floods stranded some smaller cars as street department crews raced around town to set up barricades, said Mike Reitan, West Fargo's assistant police chief.

Reitan said water was up to the running boards on his truck, and street floods were bumper high in many areas of town.

"If I was driving anything other than my four-wheel drive, I wouldn't be at work yet," Reitan said Thursday morning.

Reitan said the sump pump at his house was running almost constantly.

"It's absolutely soaked, so I would think there are some problems with water in people's basements," he said, adding that some tree limbs were knocked down.

Halvorson said the street flooding pinned her in for the day, with water backed up on her driveway.

The flooding was just as bad along Third Avenue South, but drivers plowing through anyway left wakes that splashed water into the basement where Elaine Bogardus lives.

Bogardus said her husband tried yelling at the careless drivers without having much luck.

She said the flooding was at its worst in midmorning and quite a sight when first spotted out their windows.

"We looked outside and said, 'Uh-oh,' " she said.

Rainfall estimates and surface reports indicated more than 4 inches of rain fell from West Fargo to Georgetown, Minn.

Extension offices in Cass and Clay counties received reports of flooded crops. The water was reportedly draining well from corn, wheat and beet crops near Georgetown, said Randy Nelson, Extension educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Office in Clay County.

Standing water was more extensive in Cass County, with flooding reported on crops near West Fargo, Harwood and Argusville, said John Kringler, extension agent in Cass County.

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