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Upset residents have their say about diversion project

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MOORHEAD -- Hundreds packed the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead to get more info, and make their worries heard about the Minnesota DNR’s permit proposal for the Flood Diversion project’s ‘Plan B.’

WDAY talked to many people at the meeting, some who are on the path of diversion.

They feel they were kept in the dark because they haven't been told anything about how Plan B will affect them.

"We're not going to please everyone, I know that for a fact," says Colonel Sam Calkins of the Army Corps of Engineers based out of St. Paul.

For the DNR, it's not about attitudes toward the project, they want people to understand the feasibility of the plan.

"My experience in these things is people don't understand what we're typically looking for which I will reiterate," says Tom Landwehr, commissioner of the Minnesota DNR. "It's what did we miss, did we miss an analysis of some kind, is there something else we should know about?"

And people are prepared to tell them, especially those right in the thick of it.

"We are in the holding area are farmstead would be a buyout, a lot of our land would be flooded if they hold the water back," says Hickson resident Sandy Nipstad. "And we have never been contacted once."

Jean Anderson, whose family immigrated from Sweden, has lived along the Red River for generations, has seen it from both states, having lived in both states affected.

"There's land in Minnesota that's never flooded and now with plan B, it's going to go under," Anderson says.

The Army Corps says there's no escaping the fact that some people will be negatively affected.

"While some people will still be impacted, we've found some ways to minimize those impacts and make sure they're distributed evenly between the two states," Calkins says.

Public comments can be made on the DNR's website for 30 days.

The DNR will then review the remarks.

Both the DNR and Army Corp of Engineers say if the permit is approved, they will then consider starting construction.