Conrad tours Minnewaukan

Louise Oleson, Editor
Sen. Kent Conrad visited the town of Minnewaukan Monday afternoon to see first-hand the challenges that community faces because of Devils Lake flooding. Here, Conrad looks at the school parking lot.

Minnewaukan Mayor Trish McQuoid and City Commissioner Mark Motis gave Sen. Kent Conrad a tour of their city Monday afternoon. They showed him the sites of several homes that have been moved out, and some more that may soon be moved.

The pair showed him the historic Benson County Courthouse and other buildings on relatively high ground that could not be moved in the town.

During a stop at the school, Conrad got out of the vehicle and stretched his legs, looking out over the seemingly endless waves of cattails and reeds that have filled in where the lake laps at the school’s parking lot.

McQuoid said the cattails and reeds have had one benefit, when the wind blows strong from the east, they lessen the wave action and thus the damage to what remains of the school’s property.

When the tour resumed, they took Conrad through the north part of the town, also being inundated. Before ending the tour, they took him to view the city’s water treatment facility and to show him some spots they’d looked at, if it comes down to moving part of the town to higher ground.

Then it was time for a meeting with the senator. They chose the community’s bright and cheerful library, that doubles as city hall for meetings.

Conrad informed McQuoid and Motis that he was going to look into helping the community get funding for what was needed to save their town.

Normally to receive the federal funding under these circumstances, a town must have in place a mitigation plan. Although Minnewaukan is in the process of doing that, it takes time to complete and will not be ready in time.

He explained there is an exception that FEMA can grant if a community meets the requirements - and it appears, to Conrad, that Minnewaukan may meet those requirements.

He also offered to get help for Rick Anderson and North Central Planning, working on the mitigation plan to get that completed.

He left the two Minnewaukan community leaders with a bit more hope for the future of their community.