June 25, 2011— -- Residents and officials in Minot, North Dakota, are bracing for record flooding from the swollen Souris River as the threat of more rain looms later today.
"A rain event right now would change everything. That's the scariest," Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman told The Associated Press.
Some 4,500 homes are expected to be damaged from the expected surge of the river.
The flooding is due to the combination of excessive snow melt from an above normal winter snow pack, and above normal rainfall this past spring from the northern Rocky Mountain states through the Plains and Midwest.
Currently, parts of 20 states from California and Washington to Missouri and Wisconsin are under flood watches or warnings.
Earlier this week, the flooding forced more than 11,000 people from their homes, along with giraffes, lions and other animals from the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot that have been relocated.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released pent-up water from the Lake Darling Dam, which will push water downstream toward Minot at 29,000 cubic feet per second -- more than three times the record flow rate before this year and double the projections just days ago.
Those raging waters are expected to start pushing against the already buckling makeshift Minot levees rated to withstand water flows of up to about 9,500 cfs, according to WDAY.
The Souris River reached 1,558.52 feet above sea level at 12 p.m. Friday at the city's Broadway Bridge, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.
"Today and tomorrow are going to be big days for us," Frantsvog told the AP early Friday. "We know the water is coming. It's coming soon."
Meanwhile, a few miles upstream, the town of Burlington, located where the Souris and Des Lacs Rivers converge, has given up sandbagging as a hopeless endeavor.
The town of 1,000 people is expected to lose a third of its 320 homes to flooding.
"We're no longer able to save the city," Burlington mayor Jerome Gruenberg said Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Tanganyika Wildlife Park, in Wichita, has taken in nine animals from the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, including three giraffes, two lions, a Siberian tiger, a Bengal tiger and two Amur leopards.
Minot is also home to more than just families and exotic animals -- Minuteman III nuclear missile silos are also in the flood's path. At least two silos are being protected by sandbags and pumps, but are reported to be safe.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.