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Minnesota residents guarded on flood plans

MOORHEAD -- The red line that cuts across a map shows a potential Minnesota diversion that cuts right through the farmstead Marvin Jacobsen was born and raised on.

A diversion will destroy his land, the longtime resident said Wednesday during a meeting at Minnesota State University Moorhead. And yet, Jacobsen supports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' preliminary flood-protection plans if it means shielding the area from future floods.

"Something's got to be done, of course," the Oakport Township resident said.

That seemed to be the consensus of many of the 300 people who attended the second public meeting the corps conducted to gather input on levee and diversion channel plans.

Just like the Fargo meeting the night before, a second meeting was needed Wednesday because of the number who attended.

"I guess we'll need a bigger facility the next time we come to town," said Aaron Snyder, the project co-manager.

Corps officials have developed six diversion plans in Minnesota, three diversion plans in North Dakota and two levee plans.

While south Moorhead resident Mike Edenborg said he supports the idea of a Minnesota diversion, "I still need to know if it's going to go through my backyard."

"I built this house in the country to live for years," he said. "There's too many unknowns to be 100 percent supportive."

Project co-manager Craig Evans cautioned residents that the plans are still preliminary.

"Don't look at the lines on this map and sell your land," he said. "Those lines are moving."

Another concern some Minnesotans have that may not change soon is the state's economic situation and the fact their North Dakota counterparts are the tax engine.

"Hopefully they can minimize costs," Oakport Township resident Henry Pietrzak said.

Residents also voiced concerns about land not covered by a diversion, about a diversion's effects on Dilworth and that construction isn't slated to wrap up until 2016.

"We're sick of this stuff," Pietrzak said of floods. "But wait until 2016 until you get (flood protection)?"

The corps is seeking public input until Nov. 23 and wants local leaders to decide by Dec. 1 which project they'll back - either a diversion or levee system.

"We really do need local consensus," Evans told residents. "You all, on both sides of the river, are going to be paying for this."