Homeowners begin cleanup in Fargo-Moorhead

Most homes were spared major damage, but many got water in their basements.
MPR Photo/Tom Robertson

James Wagner lives just a few blocks from the Red River in south Moorhead. He and his wife left their home when their neighborhood was evacuated two weeks ago. Wagner said he's glad to be back home and is looking forward to things getting back to normal.

"It's just a mess to clean up now, that's the only thing," Wagner said. "I'm glad they got it under control and everything is fine. I think we should be all happy about that. We missed a bullet this time. We've got to get a permanent dike system so we don't have to go through this every couple of years, it seems like."

Brian Witthoeft lives along the Red River in south Moorhead. At the height of the flood, he had water just off the back deck of his house. Now Witthoeft is trying to figure out the extent of the damage, and whether he's willing to stay in his vulnerable home.

"We won the flood, but we put out a lot of money and you know, we're starting to tally up the damages financially," Witthoeft said. "You're looking at $4,000-$5,000 in two or three months of your life, you know. That's kind of a down payment on a different house.

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Witthoeft hopes his home will be part of a buyout of vulnerable properties along the river, but city officials haven't talked publicly about buyout plans.

"We missed a bullet this time."

Moorhead resident Connie Erlandson is helping family members clean up the mess left behind from the flood fight near the river in south Moorhead. Erlandson said things could have been a lot worse if it wasn't for the heroic sandbagging efforts of volunteers.

"I'm convinced that all of the help that this community received saved millions of dollars," Erlandson said. "I believe that. I know that there were homes that were sacrificed but, and lost, but there were so many that were saved. So this is much, the outcome of this is much better than it could have been, so we're really fortunate as a community."

This week contractors for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will begin removing miles of temporary earthen levees that line the streets in riverside neighborhoods. It will likely be weeks before the main sandbag dikes are removed.