WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 02, 2010, 08:16 AM

Residents get a chance to see flood protection options at public input meeting

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - After months of working around the clock, the Corps of Engineers has narrowed down permanent flood protection options for the metro. Tonight, people had a chance to see it all for themselves, and give leaders their thoughts; more from the first of two public input meetings this week.

The question on a lot of people's minds tonight is how each of the four options would affect them. We found people who really weren't affected by last spring's flood, but who are now worried that a diversion put in their backyards, could mean more water coming their way.

Matt Folstad lives between Mapleton and West Fargo, last spring, he was surrounded by water, but his home was never damaged.

“That's my concern you know, I was doing alright before but this may have something, trying to move all this water, red river water around near me, all the sudden, that changes that whole aspect on the situation.”

Folstad, along with about 300 others, came here tonight to get the facts straight. One of them is Don Carlson; he lives in Pleasant Township south of Fargo, and supports a North Dakota diversion.

“For me personally, it would pretty well take the flood away.”

Carlson didn't flood last spring, but says there's always the possibility, and it's the unknown that's worse than anything.

“Nobody ever knew how high it would get.”

The Corps is working as fast as possible to get plans out, but the aggressive timeline is something they're not used to.

“We're doing a lot of things parallel that we would normally do in sequence, so it has been a challenge for us.”

But they're assuring people nothing is final, yet.

“Many unanswered questions, but we're still working on it.”

And for people like Folstad, who are still not behind a diversion 100 percent, that gives him peace of mind.

“Got to do what you can do and go along with it and get it done as quick as you can, but still make the right decision.”

If you wanted to go to tonight's meeting, but weren't able to be there, there's another meeting tomorrow night in Moorhead at MSUM's Hanson theater. An open house starts at 6, with a formal presentation at 7. It will be exactly the same information given at tonight's meeting.

Area leaders say it's encouraging to see such at big crowd at tonight's meeting. They say it's important for people to involve themselves in this big decision. Area leaders say they do care about the public's opinion.

They say the more the public tells them, the easier it will be for them to make this tough choice. Since a decision has to be made quickly, area leaders say they're counting on the public to give them feedback and direct them in the way they want to go.

“It's important that citizens understand the implications of these things, because it is, it's a complex issue, but nevertheless, there's probably never been a more important issue for the Fargo-Moorhead community.”

Area leaders need to have a written request telling the corps of engineers what plan they prefer, by April 15.