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Published April 02, 2009, 12:00 AM

Southern Cass County residents return to flooded areas

As most area residents returned to routine Wednesday, those from the hardest-hit areas in southern Cass County returned to flooded homes and yards.

By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM

As most area residents returned to routine Wednesday, those from the hardest-hit areas in southern Cass County returned to flooded homes and yards.

“It didn’t matter how high I put up my dike,” said Jim Kapphahn, zipping up a hunting jacket and hip waders to begin pumping out his flooded basement and first floor. “There’s nothing I could have done.”

All last week, energy and adrenaline rushed through these residents as they prepared to take on floodwaters. Now, defeated by the rivers, those feelings are replaced by frustration and exhaustion.

“We became an island out here,” Kapphahn said.

The Briarwood home he and his wife have lived in for 19 years was surrounded by a sandbag dike protecting them up to 41-foot river levels – exactly what the city told them to do.

The river reached 42.6 feet there, he said.

“I don’t think people are pointing blame,” Kapphahn said. “(But) they’ve got to get a handle on the river.”

Half a dozen homes in their neighborhood were spared while some 20 others felt the wrath of the rivers this week.

Farther along the Wild Rice River, the Wieser family’s Horace home is still surrounded by 2 feet of water. Yet, that’s down from the 4 to 5 feet the 16,000 sandbags around their home held off just a couple days ago.

“Every day you see it drop, and it just gives you that much more hope,” Mike Wieser said.

His wife, Nicole, their 5-month-old son, two horses, two dogs and seven cats remain evacuated.

“It’s been hell. It really has been hell,” said Nicole Wieser, who returned home Wednesday to check on their house. “You’re fighting for your home.”

In the meantime, family and friends will help her husband guard the home.

“Every hour you have to check pumps,” Mike Wieser said. “But in the long run, it’s worth it because you saved your house. It’s been a good battle.”

It’s a battle that at least they still can fight.

For the Kapphahns, they had to evacuate their home by Coast Guard air boats last Thursday – forced out of a fruitless fight when the power died and a truck delivering more sandbags couldn’t get there.

They won’t be able to move back in for weeks because of the flood damage. Water also filled two of their cars “like giant ice cubes,” Marsha Kapphahn said.

Yet, through the anger and disappointment, they attempt to stay positive.

“On the bright side,” she said, “we have two floors left untouched.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

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