Mark Proctor is looking up these days, but not in a good way.
Just behind his house on the west end of tiny Mendota, the trees on the bluff almost 100 feet up are starting to lean ominously toward the hill itself — a sign that they may be barely holding onto the slope. There's a giant crack on Upper D Street and one stretch of the road has slumped more than a foot — opening up a fissure that threatens to let more storm runoff undercut the road.
There's actually a landslide poised on the street above his house, waiting as the city tries to figure out how to clean up the mess without making matters worse.
"The same time the fissure opened, more of this hill slid again, and now they're trying to figure out how to get all this dirt out of here," Proctor said, surveying the trees and mud piled up on the road. "And I hope they do it before it rains again, because all of that water is going to run off into my property — but yeah, this is a road, but it looks more like mother nature and there's no guarantee that this won't slide, either."
That's very bad news for Proctor and his three neighbors on Lower D Street in Mendota. The city has asked them to leave, saying a landslide could come down the hill and destroy their homes any moment. Proctor's insurance agent says insurance in Minnesota doesn't cover landslides, threatening to leave him with a mortgage on little more than a muddy pile of rocks and trees.
"It's just a not good situation, and it's just worse because the town itself doesn't have the resources to address it," Proctor says.
With a population just under 200, and fewer than 70 homes, the whole city budget is less than $200,000 — hardly enough to rebuild the bluff or Upper D Street. Proctor hopes the city will qualify for state or federal aid to shore up the bluff on the west side of town.
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