Volunteers clean homes in Dickey County, EllendaleRemodeling is on the fast track for Megan and Colton Belmore after 22 inches of sewer water inundated their basement more than a week ago.
ELLENDALE, N.D. — Remodeling is on the fast track for Megan and Colton Belmore after 22 inches of sewer water inundated their basement more than a week ago.
After 7 inches of rain in three days last month, several residents in this town of about 1,600 woke to sewer water in their basements. The city of Ellendale as well as Dickey County paired to provide two days of cleanup Tuesday and Wednesday to residents needing assistance.
“It could have been much worse. We could have just refinished everything,” Megan said Wednesday as a John Deere tractor removed debris like insulation, carpet and Sheetrock from her front yard.
The Belmores rent the five-bedroom home and moved in last winter. Now that they’ve gutted the basement, the home has two bedrooms, one for them and one to store all the items that had been in the basement. Since the couple had recently moved in, they used the basement for storage. But important documents, Megan said, like their marriage license, were spared.
A local effort, as well as out-of-state volunteers, like the Duane and Chris Blum family of Mason City, Iowa, gutted, cleared and disinfected about 15 homes over the Fourth of July weekend, said Charlie Russell, Dickey County emergency manager.
The Blums have volunteered their time, providing disaster relief throughout the country since 2008.
Many of the homes crews assisted Wednesday belonged to vulnerable populations like the elderly, those with disablities or “the single mom with five children” Russell said. Many of Ellendale’s residents are of retirement age. The city’s young people — students at Trinity Bible College — are home for the summer.
The sewer trouble in Dickey County is just one of many water disasters statewide. The city of Minot evacuated 4,100 homes last month. Parts of Bismarck are still threatened by the swollen Missouri River. In fact, Colton is a soldier with the National Guard who helped with the flood relief efforts there.
Aside from sewer system failures, at least five residences in Dickey County are inaccessible due to water over the roads, Russell said.
“What do you do when the city can’t even handle the water put into it?” Megan said.
Dickey County and Ellendale held the cleanup event in part because the affected households aren’t eligible for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Russell said. Plus, other disaster-response agencies are already taxed with the flood trouble in other parts of the state.
“We got it done. It’s just hard,” Russell said, saying he carried furniture Tuesday and Wednesday while other crews did demolition and another did cleanup.
Megan said sewer water consumed the bed frame they’d purchased less than a year ago as well as sheet music her mother had given her from her childhood.
But Megan said other Ellendale residents, as well as residents in other parts, were worse off.
That’s why she and Colton volunteered to help the other homes in Ellendale Tuesday and Wednesday. She said she felt the worst for a widow in the area who lost some of her late husband’s World War II memorabilia. As city crew members Jim Monroe, Tom Mattheis and city foreman, Todd Flynn, removed piles of blue carpet and neatly stacked insulation, Megan said the work was exhausting, but was relieved to see the debris removed so quickly.
“It’s definitely a lot better than it could have been,” she said.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com