Crookston would love to enjoy rain without worry

Associated Press

CROOKSTON, Minn. -- This is Pat Kelly's wish: That every time a good rain soaks his town, he wouldn't have to go look at the homes along Red Lake River and make sure they're still there.

"It's coming down like a son of a gun right now, I can hear it in here," the city engineer said Wednesday from his city office, one day after visiting the area where eight homes were evacuated after a fault line opened up along the river.

The city council has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to study what it can do to stabilize the riverbank.

Kelly said the land along the fault line shifted again Tuesday night after the rain lubricated it. The fault line runs parallel to the river, running several feet deep in some places.


"This area has had a history of sliding over the years, so it would be nice to stabilize it," he said.

The area where the landslide happened has had previous erosion problems, including a major slide in 1933 that claimed several cabins, and another landslide in 1949. More minor landslides have struck the area over the years, too -- one as recently as five years ago, Kelly said.

Corps civil engineer Chris Behling said he's waiting for approval for the study. If the study and bank project are approved, Behling said it would probably fall into a category of Corps projects that cost around $1 million, with the Corps paying 65 percent of the cost. The city -- possibly with state help -- would pay the rest.

He said it's likely the Corps could fix the riverbank and stop the erosion. But rebuilding on the affected land will probably never be a good idea, although Behling said the city has the final say on that.

Kelly, who runs the city's public works department, said that most of the riverbank stabilized a few days after the landslide began. But with heavy rains on Tuesday and Wednesday, parts of the bank have moved again.

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