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Published June 26, 2009, 12:00 AM

Dike project to begin in Oakport Township

Area flood buyouts still pending
Dike construction is set to start this summer in Oakport Township, a project that will provide flood protection for 750 acres when it is completed in three years.

By: Dave Olson, INFORUM

Dike construction is set to start this summer in Oakport Township, a project that will provide flood protection for 750 acres when it is completed in three years.

Meanwhile, officials in the Fargo-Moorhead area are still searching for money to buy homes damaged in the spring flood.

Those and other post-flood updates were provided Thursday during a meeting in Fargo attended by representatives of numerous boards, commissions and councils.

“It’s really critical that we move on this,” said Gerald VanAmburg, a member of the board of managers of the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District, referring to Oakport Township’s dike plans.

The project, expected to cost about

$18 million in total, already includes a number of home buyouts and VanAmburg said additional buyouts are likely.

The dike work is expected to be completed in three years.

Clay County

Clay County Planner Tim Magnusson said the county has received buyout requests from about 52 households.

He said it’s expected 80 percent won’t qualify for federal grants and it is hoped state money can be found to purchase many of the homes.

He estimated that it would cost $3 million to $5 million to accomplish all the buyouts.


Moorhead has about 83 properties on a list of potential home buyouts, though 10 or fewer experienced substantial damage in the spring flood, according to Bob Zimmerman, city engineer.

He said federal dollars are being pursued for the worst-hit homes and it is hoped state funds will cover the rest.

He said Moorhead may have a buyout agreement worked out with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources by mid-July.

Depending on how much money is available, Zimmerman said the plan is to purchase about 35 homes with state funds this year and another 35 next year.

To meet all of its buyout requests, Moorhead would need about $2 million from the federal government and $18 million from the state, according to Zimmerman.

Cass County

About 140 homes have been identified as buyout candidates in Cass County, but many don’t qualify for federal funds, based on a cost-benefit formula the federal government follows for one of its grant programs, said Keith Berndt, county engineer.

He said the county is working with a consultant to rerun numbers to determine whether more homes will qualify.

Berndt said dollars are available in another federal program, but because of needs statewide it’s unlikely there would be enough dollars in that pool to meet all of Cass County’s needs.

Berndt estimated the total value of homes seeking buyouts in the county at $30 million.

Officials who met Thursday agreed to get together again in late September.

In the meantime, representatives of groups attending Thursday’s meeting said they would return to their respective bodies and talk over whether they wanted to be part of a work group that would regularly share information on flood issues and projects.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555