Ashtabula cabin owners face decisionsLAKE ASHTABULA, N.D. — Ginny and Jim Dwyer were hoping to someday retire in their lake home here, but that looks less likely after the land began sliding from beneath the cabin, Ginny said.
By: By Heidi Shaffer , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
LAKE ASHTABULA, N.D. — Ginny and Jim Dwyer were hoping to someday retire in their lake home here, but that looks less likely after the land began sliding from beneath the cabin, Ginny said.
“It’s gut-wrenching,” said Ginny, a West Fargo resident.
“We’ve put lots of time, energy and work into it,” she said. “It’s just kind of falling down the hill.”
A series of rain storms earlier this fall caused the soil to shift, a pattern seen over the past couple of years by a few homeowners along the western part of the lake in Lee’s Subdivision, located on the west side of the lake about 12 miles north of Valley City.
Eight of the roughly 25 homes in the area are affected by the sloping land, which has created large cracks and unstable soil near some properties.
Kevin Benson is one of about three or four cabin owners experiencing more severe shifts on their land.
Benson, who lives in West Fargo and started building on his lake lot in 2004, moved his home off its original foundation a couple of years ago. The cabin’s new location is again threatened by the sliding soil.
Moving the cabin and repairing all of the underground utilities has been expensive, and his homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by land movement, Benson said.
Homeowners found out Monday that it will be at least two years before they could get any federal money to help.
The Barnes County Commission met with state and local emergency services officials to examine what federal funding options could be available for the homeowners.
Commissioners haven’t made any decisions, but Commissioner Cindy Schwehr said the meeting was a good step and homeowners were able to have their questions answered.
The county could apply for pre-disaster mitigation grants to help mitigate the damage, said Ray Morell, hazard mitigation officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
But homeowners would still be obligated to pay for 25 percent local match of the work, Schwehr said.
In order to begin the process to determine whether the homes would qualify for the grant, property owners would have to pay to have a soil analysis, said Kim Franklin, Barnes County director of emergency management.
The process to get the funding would likely take at least two years, Franklin said.
Both Benson and Ginny Dwyer said that would likely be too late.
The Dwyers have hired a contractor to move their home further up the bank, but Benson said he doesn’t plan to relocate his cabin for a second time.
Benson said he’s hoping to ride out the winter and put the cabin structure up for sale in the spring.
“If you can’t count on a foundation to hold your structure, at some point you have to give up,” he said.
Heidi Shaffer is a reporter
for The Forum of Fargo-
Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.