In the late 1980's North Dakota was drying up. Below average moisture had caused a massive drought that was drying up farmland, lakes, and sloughs. People feared Devils Lake may completely dry up. Then in 1993 the snow came, then the rain, and then more snow, more rain, &c., and it never really let up. Rather than drying up Devil's Lake has risen nearly 30 feet and went from about 70 square miles in size to 285. Since the topography of North Dakota is pretty flat water tends to spread out more so than rise. This has inundated farmland, farms, roads, and is even threatening towns. US Highway 281 had to be relocated to higher ground before Devils Lake completely swallowed it up.
But Devils Lake is only a part of the story. The increased moisture starting in 1993 (and exasperated by heavy snowfall during the winter of '96) began to swell sloughs and create new ones. Water began to stand where no one could ever remember water. Just as with Devils Lake the surrounding land and infrastructure became inundated with water. Though there are natural drainage systems in the state most of North Dakota consists of closed basins ranging in size from the large Devils Lake Basin to unremarkable basins that may be as small as a city lot, or smaller. Regardless of the basin size the water has no where to drain, so it collects and sits, for years. The result has been a greatly changed landscape from what was seen up to the early '90's.
These photographs document some of the water damage that has occured across North Dakota. Roads, barns, houses, fences, and land still remain submerged more than 20 years after the infamous '80s drought ended.