- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Dozens of flood nuisance homes in Minot have been cleaned up to the point of no longer being considered an emergency, and now officials want to take the next step - inspecting the interiors.

Officials will soon be contacting property owners for permission and will seek warrants if needed, City Engineer Lance Meyer told the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/1vkChXS ).

The Souris River in June 2011 swamped more than 4,000 Minot homes, businesses and other structures. Many of what are considered nuisance or dangerous properties remain.

The city’s latest report shows that as of Oct. 24, 135 of the so-called “zombie homes” had been cleaned up either by owners or by the city to the point where they no longer present emergency public safety concerns.

Inspectors now want to look for health code violations, structural issues or other problems. Those deficiencies will be documented, and the owners will have 90 days to fix the problems.

“There’s nothing that says you can’t have an abandoned house that no one lives in, (but) when they harbor disease, when there are structural deficiencies, then they have to abate those things,” Meyer said.

Nathan Mugaas, who lives next to a blighted house, said mold and other health hazards are a concern when houses have sat untouched since the flood.

“I think those inspections will reveal obvious nuisances and probably will result in tearing down the houses, or they will be cleaned out and be ready to rebuild,” he said.

Either option would help remove eyesores from neighborhoods, and possibly allow for rebuilding on lots, Mugaas said.

Hundreds of zombie homes remain to be worked on, and Lianne Zeltinger, a leader of the citizens group dealing with the issue, said portions of the flooded valley still appear economically depressed. However, the serious eyesores and dangers are largely gone, she said.

“I am pleased with how the valley looks,” Zeltinger said. “Ninety-nine percent of the debris is cleaned up.”

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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