WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 29, 2011, 10:27 PM

Moorhead city leaders discuss potential flood protection projects

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - The wheels of permanent flood protection on a broader scale are turning in Moorhead.

The wheels of permanent flood protection on a broader scale are turning in Moorhead. 7 proposed projects are on the list, the most expensive $55 million in mitigation; the least $18 million.

Tonight the two least expensive plans dominated discussion among city leaders, and caused controversy among some homeowners. 82 homeowners have already volunteered to be bought out in Moorhead’s aggressive flood protection plan. But not everyone may get one. So tonight homeowners got a chance to listen in on what the city may have to offer them.

The numbers may be staggering...The past three flood events has cost Moorhead $10.7 million in temporary protection. To date, only $5.5 million has been reimbursed by federal and state funds.

Mike Redlinger – Moorhead City Manager: "That there is potentially a flood event in the not too distant future that could potentially not be reimbursed by FEMA and the state."

City leaders are laying out an ambitious flood mitigation project that could cost up to $92 million if approved by the city council. Let’s break down the numbers. The least costly project would be $18.6 million which Moorhead would pay $4.5 million of that after DNR grant money. It would buy out 56 homes, and build dikes and levees around the city for $5.5 million

Mike Redlinger: "We’re going all in were going to put the dollars on the line even if it means putting the street projects on hold for a year or two.”

Second on the list is a $27.3 million project. It would buyout 75 homes, and use $7.5 million for protective infrastructure. Moorhead would also pay more in matching funds, which would be paid for with special assessments decided at a later date.

Bob Zimmerman – Moorhead City Engineer: “Our intention would be to meet with those neighborhoods and individually talk with those properties."

Those two least expensive projects were the focus of tonight’s discussion.... The city has spent $37 million so far on flood projects since 2009. The more Moorhead spends the more money the DNR will grant the city up to $16 million.

Good news for the city, but some homeowners didn't leave so happy tonight. A bitter taste after they were told they couldn't speak because its the first time the city council have heard all of these details.

Keith Miller – Lives on the River: "Not letting us speak is unforgiveable this was suppose to be an open meeting."

Some homeowners we spoke with tonight say they felt shut out because no one was able to address the council and they’re the ones paying for these plans in the end. No decisions were made tonight and nothing was voted on, just an informational meeting.