- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The Ward County Commission is warning Rice Lake property owners to clean up their flooded properties or authorities will hire someone to do it for them - at a cost.

Commissioners on Tuesday voted to put signs on flooded structures, and First District Health Unit officials also will be sending letters to property owners inquiring about their intentions.

Rice Lake has risen five straight years, causing more than $3 million in losses. County Engineer Dana Larsen and Building Inspector Mike Larson estimate there are 77 inundated parcels of land with more than 100 structures, including 35 homes, that require some type of cleanup.

“There’s quite a few different scenarios out there. I think they all need to be addressed,” Larsen said.

Property owners who don’t deal with their flooded structures risk having the county hire someone to do it, with the property owner responsible for the bill. The state Legislature earlier this year approved $2 million in aid to help the county deal with the disaster.

“We can’t let it set. It’s going to cause further deterioration of the lake,” Commissioner John Fjeldahl said. “Those that don’t respond we will have to address, probably through condemnation.”

Some landowners are not paying taxes on their properties, allowing ownership to revert to the county.

The Rice Lake Landowners Association is scheduled to meet this weekend to discuss the situation.

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