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River over banks near Saratoga

May 29, 2014 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Workers filled and piled sandbags on Thursday along the swollen North Platte River in Carbon County as they rushed to prepare for a crest expected to approach record levels this weekend.

Melting snow and rains have sent the river beyond its banks. In Saratoga, the river gauge was at 10 feet -- 1.5 feet above flood stage. By Saturday, it was expected to rise to 10.4 feet, just below the record 10.5 foot mark reached in 2011.

Volunteers have been joined by about 150 members of the Wyoming National Guard and two dozen state firefighters from Newcastle to build sandbag dikes along the river in Saratoga and other areas where buildings might be threatened, said John Zeiger, the mayor of Saratoga and the county's emergency management coordinator.

Crews have filled about 60,000 sandbags in the past week, he said.

Saratoga has about 1,700 residents but no one has been evacuated yet. About 20 miles downstream, the river was flooding areas around Fort Steele.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department closed about a half-dozen public access areas along the river in Carbon County.

Along with the North Platte, officials were also watching the Encampment River, which is causing minor flooding as it rises.

"It's starting to pick up pretty good," Zeiger said.

The Encampment River flows into the North Platte south of Saratoga.

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