One Man’s Opinion: We Can & Must Do Better on Flood Control

At a recent meeting sponsored by the Corps of Engineers regarding flood control, the attendees were advised it would probably be over 20 years before the Souris River flood control project is completed. Several credible local persons involved with the project conceded to me off the record, that it could be longer and possibly never.

As a former elected official, I have some empathy for the mind-numbing slow pace of democracy. That said, I have several observations which are troubling:

  1. There appears to be a significant percentage of the local populace that feel a flood like 2011 or worse couldn’t happen again.
  2. There appear to be a significant percentage of elected officials who are climate change deniers notwithstanding the fact that roughly 95% of world scientists with expertise on the subject think otherwise.If 95% percent of their doctors advised them to have surgery to remove a tumor, how many of them would not follow their doctor’s advice?
  3. Although roughly 25% of Minot citizens live in the 2011 flood plain, only a handful of persons attended the August 19, 2015 meeting. Do the other 11,000 plus person’s living in or having invested in the flood plain have blind faith in our government or are they merely apathetic?
  4. Why are more local  citizens not making more noise about how long this is taking?
  5. Why is there not more aggression on the subject of flood control  from our elected officials? By this, I mean every one of them. Who on the city council is pushing the issue? Is the mayor pushing the issue? Are the county commissioners pushing the issue? Are our local state legislators pushing the issue? Is the governor waiting for our debt-laden federal government to bail out a state with several billion dollars of surplus funds? Is that conservatism? Is that responsible?
  6. Why would our state and local leaders allow the region’s transportation center, medical center, shopping center, higher education center, entertainment center, and the state fairgrounds to be dangling in the breeze for over 20 years?

The politeness of Midwestern people is admirable, but only to a point. Silence may be golden, but not when it is the silence of the lambs slowly drifting to the slaughter.

Is it a secret that the weather in North Dakota is unpredictable? Even climate change deniers should concede that. In America (which includes Minot, North Dakota) one gets the government that one deserves. That is both the good news and the bad news of democracy.

For those who are impressed with the way Minot flood control is being handled by our government “leaders”, I can only quote the The Dude from The Big Lebowski, “Well,  you know, that’s just like your opinion, man.”

Jim Maxson

2 comments on “One Man’s Opinion: We Can & Must Do Better on Flood Control

Brad Schimke

I think the leap from apathetic flood folks to climate change deniers is a stretch. My opinion that it is more the perception that this flood was man-made in the sense that significant mismanagement occurred at some (maybe every) level. Maybe not mismanagement in the legal sense, but the type of mismanagement than can be fixed and won’t happen again. Granted there were significant rain events and greater than normal snow packs. So weather put the water where it was. Men moved it around. Too slowly as it turned out.

I think our leaders (city, county, state, federal) would rather plan on a billion dollar, 20+ year flood protection project than have to admit that mismanagement led to the flood. And nothing we do or say will likely change that. For any of our politicians to take up the drum beat of demanding quicker action is political suicide. They might end up finding things they don’t want to find. So instead, let’s all just sit here and let the billion dollar wheels of government continue to turn at the incredibly slow pace to which we’ve all become accustomed.

From county courthouses being 100% under budget by apparently incompetent architects/builders/budget makers to jails that have to be scaled back because of cost issues (couldn’t do that on the office building, could we?), to what will likely end up being the most expensive publicly funded underutilized parking structures in the free world, we get it. Actually, I don’t know if we’re apathetic (we might be) or just so utterly convinced on the inability of government to get anything done on time, on budget, on task that we just remove ourselves from the situation. I would say it’s the exact opposite of blind faith in government. And maybe it is the exact definition of apathy.

Steven Debertin

I have a couple questions. Why would our city not repair the levies along the river at least to a pre-2011 flood state? Our valley is less protected from high flows than it was before the flood. The Corps of Engineers representatives at the recent meeting stated that the levies MUST be repaired prior to any future flood protection projects being approved. Why wasn’t an Environmental Impact Study done before all the nice pictures were drawn to show a “potential” flood protection project? How can the city tell home owners in the “potential” flood protection project area that the city will use eminent domain laws to take their homes from them, when there is no plan actually written in stone? Do you think the federal flood insurance will cover your losses, if another flood occurred tomorrow? If the Corps has not certified the levies in Minot, the insurance may reject your claims! We need to get to work on the levies as a priority, before tearing down all the houses that families were living in after rebuilding!! Peace.

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