MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Events are planned this weekend to celebrate Minot's recovery from the historic Souris River flooding a year ago — a rebound that North Dakota's fourth-largest city is far from completing.
The "Weekend of Hope: Return to Oak Park" events will be highlighted by the reopening of the area's largest park on Friday. Other family oriented events are planned for Saturday. Mayor Curt Zimbelman said in a statement that it is a time to remember how far the community has come in the past year.
"And since we still have a long way to go, we will rededicate ourselves to do whatever it takes to continue restoring the hope needed for our city and valley to rebuild from the 2011 flood," he said.
The historic summer flood caused by excessive spring snowmelt and rain displaced more than 11,000 people, damaged more than 4,000 homes and businesses and caused more than $1 billion in damage.
Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jerry DeFelice told The Associated Press that about 1,450 temporary housing units remain occupied. At the peak about 2,000 units housed flood victims.
One year after the flood, "there are clearly needs in Minot," he said.
The oil boom in western North Dakota is exacerbating the housing shortage. DeFelice also noted that unlike Grand Forks, which was hit by a devastating spring flood in 1997, Minot did not have the advantage of a full construction season following the receding of the floodwaters.
Some Minot flood victims are looking south for homes.
Minot resident Dan Clementich and his neighbor had considered retirement homes in Arizona someday. After the flooding, they went together to buy a modular home so they had a place to live in Minot, then traveled to Phoenix to buy homes in the recession-plagued housing market there. Clementich told the Minot Daily News that he got a five-bedroom house with a swimming pool in a gated community for an "astounding" price. He plans to vacation there at least four times a year.
"We love Minot. It's still my hometown, but it is so chaotic," Clementich said. "It's changed so much."
FEMA spokesman Brian Hvinden told The Associated Press that dozens of agency officials remain in Minot, and there is a lot of work left to be done by various local, state and federal agencies. The work ranges from school repairs and replacements to a long-term flood control project that is likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
"In a lot of ways they have come along well," Hvinden said of the city in general. "Schools and lot of the bigger projects are just going to take time to get done."