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For one unlucky Arvilla couple, Monday’s storm was déjà vu

ARVILLA, N.D. -- Mark Pierce held his 2-year-old daughter Tuesday as he stood on a fine layer of sludge that covered his basement. That's what remained in the aftermath of a severe storm Monday night that produced golf ball-sized hail and ferocio...

The Pierce family surveys damage to their home after thunderstorms left over four inches of water standing in their basement, which they had just finished repairing after a flood earlier this month. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald


ARVILLA, N.D. - Mark Pierce held his 2-year-old daughter Tuesday as he stood on a fine layer of sludge that covered his basement.

That’s what remained in the aftermath of a severe storm Monday night that produced golf ball-sized hail and ferocious winds that downed several trees throughout the region. Of all the residents in Arvilla, his home was hit the hardest during the storm but also happened to be the target of repeated flooding that so far has no solution.

He stood in the basement and gazed around at the mess before him: stacks of two-by-fours lying on the floor, an unhinged door resting against the wall, a random assortment of toys, clothes and other household items splattered in mud. Four inches of water had filled his newly-renovated basement.

“We just put in brand new doors, painted everything in the basement,” he said.


County and township officials acknowledged the town had flooding problems but said there are too many organizations and no one is willing to take responsibility. But they all agreed that nothing could stop four-and-a-half inches of water falling within an hour.

“You can’t make a big enough culvert to handle it,” said Paul Bernardy, township assessor.


Repeat problem

Pierce and his wife, Tuesday, said this last episode was the third time their home was flooded in recent years, and the second time in a little over a month.

About two feet of water rose outside their home on Monday night, and by the time it started to emerge in their basement, their sump pump failing to manage the rush, “we just literally had to sit and watch it,” said Tuesday Pierce.   

Their home on the southern edge of the town happens to be located in a depression that’s directly in the path of oncoming water from the southwest. County roads and the railroad tracks near their property inhibit the flow of water, too, so it just pools around their home.

Pierce said they had just been cleaning up from the last bout of rain a month ago, which dropped another four inches in their basement. Luckily, the couple has flood insurance, but it hasn’t covered enough, they said.


So far, Pierce estimates he’ll be paying at least $30,000 to $35,000 in total renovation work, just in the past month. They’ve considered selling the house but they don’t want to pass on a flood-prone home, they said. 

“No one’s going to want to live here,” said Tuesday Pierce. “We just feel stuck. We’re between a rock and a hard place.”


Flood control

Township officials said they’ve made several efforts to divert water around the town but all have failed. One solution would be to create a larger culvert near the county road running north and south, but that the road is the responsibility of the county, said Bernardy.

Other agencies are involved in the decision, too, such as the county and the county water resource board, he said.

Grand Forks County Commissioner Gary Malm said he’d not heard of the flooding problems there in awhile, but welcomed the couple to address the board.

For now, Pierce and his wife will continue to clean out the basement. Mud-covered mattress, toys, furniture and a trailer full of items they salvaged from the last storm sat in their driveway.


“What can you do?” said Tuesday Pierce.  



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