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Published January 20, 2011, 11:02 PM

Residents South of Grand Forks Face Third Year in a Row of Flooding, Without Protection

The flood outlook released this week says there is a high percentage for major flooding along the Red River. Forecasted levels are well within Grand Forks-East Grand Forks flood protection. But for those living just south of Grand Forks, without protection, familiar worries have returned.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

The flood outlook released this week says there is a high percentage for major flooding along the Red River.

Forecasted levels are well within Grand Forks-East Grand Forks flood protection.

But for those living just south of Grand Forks, without protection, familiar worries have returned.

Greg Hughes, who lives in the Burke addition south of Grand Forks, has a lot of practice fighting floods. When there is major flooding on the Red River, a coolie connected to the river threatens many homes, including his.

"Really, it was only 1979 and '97 that we ever had any real problems out here. And now it's almost every year," Hughes said.

The latest flood outlook from the National Weather Service is predicting there is a high percentage that river levels will be comparable to the 2009 and 2010 floods. But Hughes and many of his neighbors don't expect to be sandbagging. That's because they have built earthen dikes and concrete flood walls.

"I removed 10,000 bags two years ago and that was the last time I'm doing that," Hughes said.

Flood protection may be less of a worry here than past years. But for those who live just east of the coolie, one big concern remains: transportation. During major flooding, the area becomes an island. People are forced to use boats to get to and from about 25 homes.

"A lot of times you're weaving in and out of trees, ice chunks are floating. Docking the boat creates an issue," resident Mark Satek said.

This year will likely be the third in a row people will have to make daily trips across a strong current in freezing conditions.

"A lot of years it's a half an inch of ice you are busting through. Just to get across," Satek said.

With the frequency of the flooding, homeowners are currently looking at ways they could pay for a small bridge. They say so far, they have been lucky that someone has not fallen out of a boat, which unfortunately they believe might be what it takes to get one.

"Unless there is some way of diverting the water south of here, or get out of this wet cycle. But the last thing we want to do is dedicate a bridge to someone," Satek said.

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