The Pembina Dikes

by

Randy Clow

 

In 1950, North Dakota had one of the worst floods in itshistory. There wasn't a dry spot of land in all of Pembina.

In 1955, when the flood waters started coming again, theystarted to build a temporary dike. Barron Construction had the contract. It was in April and the ground was still frozen so it was hard to get dirt. They used 60,000 to 70,000 yards of dirt and 286,000 sandbags to make thedike. It was built west and southwest and all around, bordering the outskirtsof the city limits, to Interstate Highway 29.

Highway 29 was just as high as the dike, so all they didwas sandbag the culverts. They built the dike right down main street sosome of the houses had to be sandbagged. Most of the sandbagging was doneby volunteer workers, like men, women, and school children.

This was only a temporary dike, so as soon as the floodwas over they pushed it down.

In 1969, the Red River started rising again south of Pembina. Then Pembina decided to build a better dike. This dike was made out ofall earth. They estimate that they used 180,000 yards of dirt. This wasbuilt about the same place as the 1966 dike but it included more housesalong the Pembina River. This dike was financed by the government.

The Red River flood stage at Pembina is 4.2 feet. Whenthe water rose this high they had someone patrol the dike 24 hours a dayfor three weeks. Other pumped the seepage water out over the dike intothe river. The city supervised this and the labor was mostly volunteermen of Pembina. They used 20 pumps.

South Dakota had never been diked before 1959 but the museumhad been sandbagged. So, in 1969, after the flood danger passed, a permanentdike around South Pembina was built by the Barron Construction Company ofPembina. Half of this was paid for by residents of Pembina. The otherhalf was paid for by the State Highway Department and the State Water Commission.

Pembina plans to build a permanent dike this year whichwill be paid for by the Federal Government. It will be built by BarronConstruction Company.

 

Bibliography

Barron, Art (Mr. and Mrs.) Interview on February 5, 1973.

Clow, Gladys (Mrs.) Interview on February 5, 1973dys (Mrs.) Interview on February 5, 1973