WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 22, 2010, 08:59 AM

Oakport Township leaders introduce flood fighting idea

Oakport Township, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Oakport Township leaders say they have a solution that would make fighting another spring flood much easier. They want to build a series of temporary ring dikes that would protect all but about 60 homes in the township. But first, they've got to get people in the township on board. Tonight, they put together a special meeting to introduce the idea, and get some feedback.

Oakport leaders are asking people in the township to sign a voluntary petition that says they agree to pay an assessment fee for these ring dikes, with the possibility of not being reimbursed. But the catch is there's no solid information about how much that fee would be, it could be small, or it could cost up to 2,000 dollars per home.

“There's no way of knowing that price until we know what kind of flood we're going to fight, if we're going to 39 feet, 41 or 43, and so we're going to have to rely on the people to trust us to make the right decisions.”

Oakport leaders are asking for a big leap of faith. They need 90 percent of homeowners to say "yes" to build three ring dikes. One of them would snake around the McCann's, Crystal Creek and North Crystal Creek neighborhoods, the highest ground in Oakport.

“It was far enough from the sandbags and everything, but we wasted a lot of time sandbagging every house.”

Almost every home in those neighborhoods is protected to 41 feet. As of tonight, people are split down the middle about whether they want this or not, but some say they're tired.

“I guess if it comes down to paying money or dealing with the stresses that we had to deal with last year, I’d rather pay money. We can always make more, but you can only handle so much anxiety and stress.”

If the corps builds the dikes, they wouldn't be permanent; they'd have to come down after the flood. But leaders say while they're up, it means less sandbagging, only about 200 thousand would be needed instead of the 1.3 million used last year.

“Life will be a lot better for everyone, so hopefully we'll have success.”

There are still two more meetings this week; tomorrow night for people who live in the "coulee" area. Thursday night is for people living in the Brentwood, Rolyn Acres and Odegard subdivision. Both of those meetings will be at the Oakport Town Hall from 7:00 to 8:30.