Before and after the Minot flood, and a plan to rebuild

Minot, North Dakota. County seat of Ward County.

After the floods of the past two weeks, the city of Minot, North Dakota, is still partially evacuated and largely underwater. The scope of the damage remains to be seen; online, Minotians are convening with questions such as

“what is the estimate until the river is back to normal levels”

“If anyone has a better picture of my house could you please share it with me”

“I thought we were supposed to be conserving water??? I happen to see a picture of our house this wknd and
there’s a darn mouse watering my lawn and washing our house inside and out” (referring to the flooded river’s nickname, the Mouse).

“is the flood overwith or did they just get tired of airing the news about it?”

Roads are reopening wherever possible, and, as of Friday, for those residents who “have no river water on their lawns,” the evacuation order has been lifted. As of today, 79 percent of those surveyed were able to enjoy, at least somewhat, the July 4 holiday. As for the future? The presidential disaster declaration (which includes 43 counties and three Indian reservations in North Dakota) promises extensive federal assistance in an unfolding plan to rebuild the city, one might say, future-proofed. The idea is to remove as many buildings as possible from the 100-year floodplain (the terrain likely to be badly flooded at least once a century), repurposing the riverside for recreation, ecology and straightforward water management. The homes will be purchased from eligible (and willing) residents at pre-flood prices, and then demolished or moved to higher ground.

There are a few things about Minot to know: the economy, due in part to copious oil reserves and a nearby air force base, was prosperous, and those elements have not changed. There was already a housing shortage because of a rapid increase in population. It gets very cold there, down to 40 below zero – and so any temporary housing must be winterized very effectively.

Drag the green bar to compare images. Before images taken August 31, 2009; After images taken June 29, 2011. Satellite images courtesy of Google and GeoEye.