Ice jams cause the Otter Tail River to surround homes near Fergus FallsFergus Falls, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Things have gone from bad to worse for homeowners near Fergus Falls, on the Otter Tail River. Ice jams are blocking the river flow and water has gone from creeping into yards last week to now surrounding homes.
Homeowners are trying everything to fight back water. Tractors are weaving in and out of homes, busting through the muck to lay dirt and clay.
"This is Christmas time. We got 3 months before the real flood supposedly comes."
Jerry Schmidt has sump pumps poking out of every side of his home, but it's not enough. His house is now an island and the only way to keep it dry is bring in heavy equipment, tear up the yard, and build a ring dike.
"That's fixable I guess or whatever, but if the house gets swamped, that's a bigger mess or whatever, but landscaping I have no problem with that."
Schmidt says two years ago, when we bought the home, all of his neighbors told him flooding had never been an issue in the area. Two weeks ago when water was creeping closer and closer to the house, nobody thought it'd continue rising to the point where his home is now surrounded.
"We shouldn't of ever had to do this, so why would you ring-dike your home when you'd look pretty foolish ring diking your house in the middle of nowhere, making a big mess and instead we got a real big mess."
"We are just trying to keep it in perspective, its just stuff. Kids are home, it's Christmas, so just trying to keep it in prospective that this was just a little bump in the road and there are certainly a lot worse things."
The Schmidt's joked at least part of their spring flood fight will now be completed. Frustration is building among the homeowners fighting the flooding. They say no group will take ownership and help out for what's happening.
They've contacted local lawmakers and people on area lake boards and say it's just falling on deaf ears. The county sheriff told us he contacted the state hydrologist and Minnesota DNR, but since this is a natural problem it's on the homeowners to deal with the flooding.
SHERIFF BRIAN SCHLUETEROtter Tail County: “There's no easy solution. Obviously we would of fixed it if there was. It's frustrating if you're the homeowner and have the water coming in their basements and they're trying to mitigate that by damming things up and sandbagging."
The sheriff's department has been trying to break up the underwater ice jams but has had little success.