Not going anywhere: Moorhead man staying put in bought-out neighborhood
Lloyd Paulson split his time between two very different spots during last spring's flood fight. There was his home on Moorhead's Rivershore Drive, where a band of friends and strangers three times rallied to reinforce a 30,000-sandbag dike agains...
Lloyd Paulson split his time between two very different spots during last spring's flood fight.
There was his home on Moorhead's Rivershore Drive, where a band of friends and strangers three times rallied to reinforce a 30,000-sandbag dike against a surging Red River. Then, there was the MeritCare room of Paulson's wife of "57 good years," Beverly.
Now Paulson faces another standoff with the water, on different terms. As the last of 14 neighboring families who sold their homes to the city were moving out Monday, Paulson watched a contractor build a horseshoe clay dike around his home. Paulson, a former manager at Scheels, was staying put.
"I feel I have the nicest spot in the whole town," said Paulson, 85 "and healthy as a horse."
"I hate to leave it."
Paulson's home was an action-packed scene last year. Friends and city volunteers flocked to the house each time the crest forecast jumped, twice staying overnight to build up the dike.
Ten pumps were going around the clock. TV network reporters claimed real estate on the deck for chilling views of the swollen river, normally a good 100 yards from the house.
In 1997, the Paulsons put up a sign-up sheet for sandbagging volunteers titled "Our wonderful helpers/savers and generous souls." Goulash was served in the wood shop turned mess hall. Last year, he says, he didn't catch all the volunteers' names.
His focus was elsewhere.
"My dad was at the hospital every day," says Paulson's son, Bob.
Beverly, a one-time YWCA Woman of the Year, was at MeritCare since undergoing heart surgery in February. As she was evacuated to a hospital in the Twin Cities area, three homes just north of the Paulsons lost their battles with the floodwaters.
She died on April 7, days after Lloyd and his children marked a victory over the flood by hoisting an upside down canoe on top of the dike.
That summer, residents of Rivershore Drive approached Lisa Vatnsdal, Moorhead's neighborhood services manager, about selling their homes to the city. Eventually, she heard from Paulson, too.
"I remember Mr. Paulson calling me and saying, 'I am not going to sell my house,'" she said. "I told him, 'Nobody will make you sell your house.'"
The city eventually bought out the three properties to the north and 11 to the south. But Paulson wasn't going anywhere: "I didn't have to think about it one minute."
The house is filled with three decades of memories, and for a self-described farm boy at heart, the home, where deer and wild turkeys frequent the backyard, offers a treasured proximity to the outdoors.
When news of another looming flood fight hit this spring, Paulson took the news in stride. He lives alone now, and his neighbors are gone, but he has a stable of friends who check on him each day. He hired a contractor to build a clay levee that would protect his home to 43 feet.
"It's permanent so we won't have to do this again next year," he said. "I will just sit here in my easy chair and enjoy my retirement."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529