Nearly 80 percent of homes most heavily damaged by 2011 flooding are repaired and are either being lived in or are very close to being habitable, according to a City of Minot survey.
Record flooding from the Souris River in 2011 caused main floor damage to 2,716 homes in the valley.
"There are about 600 homes that do not appear to have sufficient repairs done to make them livable," said Kevin Ternes, city assessor and head of the department that verified the status of flood-damaged properties. "Now, it's possible that some of these have had some interior wiring or exterior work, but the result of this visual survey is that the city has more than 2,100 of the homes that experienced main floor damage back in use or soon-to-be livable at this point."
Jill Schramm/MDN • Jerry Hanson, a Hope Village volunteer from Wisconsin, attaches cabinet doors in a house in Eastwood Park Thursday. Volunteers hope to have the owner in her home before Christmas.
Jill Schramm/MDN • Lawson “Red” Rennie cleans cabinetry in a home under reconstruction in Eastwood Park. Rennie is with a Wisconsin church group working through Hope Village.
The assessment comes nine months after the city's previous complete verification of the homes most heavily damaged after the flood. The 2,716 homes that suffered main-floor damage or greater were those that generally took longer to repair at greater cost to the homeowner.
Ron Bock and his wife and adult son are planning to move back into their renovated home this weekend after 13 months in a temporary housing unit provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Totally excited," is how Bock describes their feelings. "It's been nice to go to a FEMA trailer and have a bed to sleep in and a hot shower in the morning. But this is home."
Cliff Weedeman returned home about Oct. 31 to a house that was largely finished but for a few minor details, which he still is finishing up.
"It feels like a new home," he said. "The house was built in 1906 but it's almost new now new plumbing, new furnace, new wiring all the way around."
The Bock home, built in 1930, also has a new floor plan and modern updates.
Bock can see restored street lights dispelling the previous gloom, and some neighbors already back home. He has one neighbor, who like his family, will move in this weekend, and another neighbor who expects to be back by January.
"Lights are working and Christmas lights are going up. Things are looking halfway normal," he said. "There's a feeling that all of us are trying to get back in that can and that can afford it."
The Bocks and Weedeman, who have been doing their own work on their homes, are appreciative of help received from Hope Village volunteers. However, the need for more help is evident when Weedeman talks about the gutted, vacant house next door and Bock speaks of the elderly neighbors struggling on a fixed income to repair their home.
Hope Village, in its weekly report last Tuesday, noted that it has work under way on 57 homes and another 73 homes ready for volunteers to begin work. The village has 171 jobs pending for rebuild, sanitizing, yard work or other miscellaneous tasks.
FEMA reports that 36 percent, or about 300 of the 832 households still living in temporary units, intend to repair and return to their homes.
Tom Carroll, recovery division director with FEMA in Denver, said there are common hindrances that are delaying people from getting back into their homes. Those include costs that exceed people's resources and the lack of available volunteer labor to accomplish the work in a more rapid time frame.
"Another common one is lack of contractors, particularly skilled contractors in electrical and plumbing," Carroll said.
Based on the recent survey and the best information available, Ternes estimates 185 homes in Minot have been demolished in the past 17 months, while about 125 homes appear not to have been cleaned out since the June 2011 flood. Both those categories would include houses that the city has purchased or may buy through the voluntary acquisition process.
The city assessor's survey of flooded homes with main floor damage did not include assessments of apartment buildings of four or more units, commercial buildings or mobile homes.
About 4,100 structures were affected by flooding in 2011, based on data from Geographical Information System mapping, FEMA follow-up surveys and aerial photography. The 4,100 structures included detached garages, large sheds, mobile homes, houses, apartment complexes, commercial buildings and other identifiable structures.
The City of Minot estimates that roughly 600 mobile homes and 200 commercial buildings were damaged in the 2011 flooding. The city does not have a firm number of homes impacted by basement flooding only but supposes that nearly all the homes in that category were back in use within six months of the flood.