Oakport goes into wait-and-see mode

Residents move items from the basement
To prepare for possible flooding, Scott Olson moved furniture from his basement to the upper floor of his home.
MPR Photo/Ambar Espinoza

Scott Olson and his neighbors managed to sandbag their houses without the help of any volunteers, even though they got a late start. No one expected water this high in the township, because the area stayed dry during the 1997 flood. Now, they've done all they can.

Recycled bottles store water
Water bottles sit in Scott Olson's kitchen. The Olson family recylced plastic bottles to store water.
MPR Photo/Ambar Espinoza

Water is seeping into many basements in Oakport Township from a number of different sources: the Red River, the sewer, and drains that go out into the river.

Scott Olson has also been monitoring the basements of neighbors who have voluntarily evacuated. He says at least in his part of town, the seepage is manageable. He guided a plumber into his neighborhood by phone, so he could fix some problems in a handful of basements.

Moorhead Public Service decided to cut water service temporarily in Oakport Township. They did it to keep contamination from getting into the water supply. Now, residents can use water, but Scott Olson and his wife Cadi are using it sparingly, because they know the sewer system is having trouble handling all the extra water.

Looking for volunteers
Scott Olson tries to find volunteers by making phone calls.
MPR Photo/Ambar Espinoza

Olson sees a little seeping in his basement, and, luckily, it's not from the sewer. While the water service was out, using the bathroom was a challenge. Olson and a few of his neighbors used five gallon buckets. The Olsons had some extra ones lying around, and they shared them with a neighbor and told her, "We don't need them back."

A couple of streets away, people had the luxury of port-a-potty's delivered by a volunteer. That's one less thing Allyson Boe has to worry about, so she can focus on the seepage in her basement from sewage backup.

Boe says at some point her toilet had also been seeping, but it stopped. She says her family is stocking up on water, gloves, bleach and all kinds of things to clean.

An Oakport house sits several feet underwater
The front yard and driveway of Oakport township supervisor Greg Anderson are several feet underwater.
MPR Photo/Stephanie Hemphill

While residents stay busy taking care of their homes, city officials, the national guard and sheriff's deputies are focusing more security and escorting residents through neighborhoods, spending less time on evacuations and rescues.

Greg Anderson is the chairman of Oakport Township. He says so far, about 30 homes out of 550 have been lost, and they'll need to be demolished.

Anderson says the problem is all the power in the water.

Anderson's been pumping out his own basement for days. So far, he's stayed ahead of the water. He says he will be surprised if Oakport doesn't lose 150 homes. Greg Anderson says maybe his next house will be a house on wheels.

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