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Published October 20, 2009, 07:56 AM

Flood plan meeting in Fargo draws a crowd

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Tonight's public input meeting was so crowded, the Army Corps of Engineers split it in two, holding one meeting at 6 o'clock, then another at 7:30. Tonight, the Corps laid out three options; a Minnesota diversion, a North Dakota diversion, and a levee plan along the river.

By: Christina Vaughn, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Tonight's public input meeting was so crowded, the Army Corps of Engineers split it in two, holding one meeting at 6 o'clock, then another at 7:30. Tonight, the Corps laid out three options; a Minnesota diversion, a North Dakota diversion, and a levee plan along the river.

There were 190 chairs set up for tonight's meeting, but there weren't enough. People stood in the back, and overflowed into the halls. Some say the rainy weather has them worrying that we are in the same position as last fall, and it's making them more concerned than ever to see protection plans, and give their input.

“Well I walked in and I figured I should have gotten here a little earlier.”

Hundreds of 2009 flood fighters sit, stand, and strain to listen from the hallway, eager to listen and learn, each of them with their own story to tell.

“Main road coming in was under about a foot and a half of water. We had about a foot and a half of water running through the development. We had a lot of sandbags all over the place, and a lot of worries.”

“After Easter we had no mail delivery or garbage pick up for six weeks. We went in and out on four wheelers.”

Mary Nelson's home didn't flood, but her development did. She says she understands people's concern about the cost for permanent protection, but she says in the long run, the multi-million dollar price tag is well worth it.

“For us, our home owner's insurance went up from 300 to 1200, and we didn't even flood, and so I would rather put that money toward a diversion.”

Between the three options, engineers say a Minnesota diversion is the most cost effective, but they say right now, the biggest issue the public has with protection is how it will help when the river rises again.

“Are we going to have to do flood fighting in the future, and what's that flood fighting going to look like. So there's really a focus on what will these plans do to flood fighting. I don't really think anybody wants to throw another sandbag.”

There is another input meeting tomorrow night at six o'clock in MSUM's Hagen Hall. After that, the Corps of Engineers says it's up to local leaders to give them guidance. They want the public to digest the information, talk with area lawmakers, and tell them what they want.

Local lawmakers need to report back to the Corps by December first, to give them an answer on how to move forward. Members from the Buffalo Red River Watershed District are crossing their fingers, hoping they're able to start work on seven rural ring dikes this fall.

The Clay County Planning Commission gave them approval tonight, but now, the problem is the weather. The seven homes are split between Alliance, Oakport, Kragnes and Moland townships, and each of them are in dire need of protection. Each ring dike will be built 2-feet above the 100 year flood plain, or the record level.

It will cost about 40 thousand dollars per dike, that amount is split between the state, the watershed district, and the homeowner.

“It's too wet, and we need nice weather and dry dirt, and the calendar says the chances of getting that now are getting slimmer by the day.”

The watershed district is still taking applications for people who want ring dikes. You can call their office in Barnesville to start the application process.

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