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Cautious optimism in Drayton after levee extension granted

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DRAYTON, ND (WDAZ-TV) - After 8 years of planning and debate, the federal government has committed to its share of the Fargo-Moorhead diversion project, meant to reduce the flood risk for 225,000 people.

But for other people, the move has them even more worried about flooding. The deadline for removing the levees in Drayton, North Dakota has been extended, but will there be a final answer to the problems in the city?

Off Main Street in Drayton, tucked in the back of the local supermarket, there's the local newspaper.

Lesa Van Camp, Valley News & Views: “I think it's important to get the voice of the people in a publication.”

Lesa took over Valley News & Views, the newspaper that her husband and mother-in-law started in 1982.

Van Camp: “I could not bear to see what my husband and mother-in-law had started die.”

Lately, the front-page headlines have been all been chronicling Drayton's dike problems.

Van Camp: It's a very hot-button issue all the way around.”

After the flood of '97, FEMA bought up properties next to the Red River as a part of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The program is designed to protect communities from flooding, but folks in Drayton say it's putting them in danger.

Van Camp: “The importance of the dike issue is everyone wants the same thing. They want to keep the town safe.”

FEMA says there can be no structures on bought-out land. Currently, dikes occupy that land and have since the flood 97. The deadline to remove the dikes was October 12, until Senator Hoeven heard the complaints of the people.

Tom Brusegaard, spokesman for Senator Hoeven: “The folks at FEMA indicated that would be willing to act favorably upon a 6 month extension to the deadline.”

The deadline got moved to April, which Hoeven's office says should be enough time to get legislation passed to allow structures that are a part of a flood protection plan.

However, Hoeven has tried to pass similar legislation in the past, which has failed.

Brusegaard: “Confidence in Washington D.C. is a difficult word, but Senator Hoeven considers it a priority of his.”

Today, there's cautious optimism in Drayton that the government they were concerned was going to wash out their town is now going to help win the fight for the dikes.

Ryan Laughlin

Ryan Laughlin joins your home team from Minnetonka, Minnesota. Ryans journalism career started in high school. He was the sports editor of his high school newspaper. Then, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire he made the jump into broadcasting. Ryan started a hunting and fishing show called, EC Outdoors on the student-run TV station. He is excited to be living in a town thats as enthusiastic about hockey as he is and likes to hunt and fish when he has time. Hes a die-hard Minnesota sports fan and is glad to be out of Packer country.

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