updated 4/21/2006 3:24:17 PM ET 2006-04-21T19:24:17

Weekend temperatures in the 60s and 70s will likely accelerate melting of the several feet of snow that fell in the northern Black Hills, and state officials want residents in a four-county area to keep an eye on rivers and creeks.

Kristi Turman, director of the state Office of Emergency Management, said there is a potential for flooding in Harding, Butte, Meade and Lawrence counties.

Officials were advising caution for residents living in areas along: Bear Butte Creek, Belle Fourche River, Elk Creek, Little Missouri River, Spearfish Creek, Red Water River, Hay Creek, Moreau River and Whitewood Creek.

"This is not a panic situation," Turman said. "This is just an awareness for folks living in those areas that there is a potential for flooding at this time."

Joel Petersen with the U.S. Geological Survey said the agency had a series of stream gauges and field crews monitoring the rising water.

USGS gauging stations broadcast over satellites every one to four hours, he said.

"So we can watch that from the office here, plus we have the people in the fields actually measuring the flow," Petersen said.

The National Weather Service was also monitoring stream gauges and had spotters in various areas in the Black Hills.

Turman said residents forced to leave their homes should identify a place to go and gather critical documents, clothing and personal products for several days. They should also make arrangements for pets and create a communications plan to keep in contact with family, she said.

Officials had thousands of sandbags on hand in the northern Black Hills and more could be brought in for residents who need to hold back water, Turman said.

In Spearfish Thursday, part of the roof at a Wal-Mart Supercenter collapsed from the weight of snow. The store had been evacuated and no one was hurt.

More than 15,200 customers were without electricity at the height of the storm. By Friday morning, the number was down to 1,975, Turman said.

Power companies and cooperatives reported about 2,892 poles downed by the storm.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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