Ordinances didnt cover flood
Nothing found in any ordinance or law served as the basis for government during the period of Minots flood disaster.
City Attorney Hugh McCutcheon points out that the city operated under general police powers, which a city can use in such emergencies.
Actions taken to preserve life and property were based upon the common sense judgment of elected officials and City Manager Vernon Fahy after they had consulted with each other, according to McCutcheon.
Fahy, who during the Des Lacs flood operated a flood control center from his car, was geared for the second flood from the Mouse River, which poured eight times as much water through the Magic City.
When Fahy realized the full measure of the danger Minot faced from the second flood, he took what steps he could to protect life and property, in that order of importance.
He stayed in constant communication with Mayor C. D. Johnson and alderman, as well as McCutcheon, who offered what legal advice he could on the matter of control operations.
When Fahy knew the magnitude of Minots impending second flood, he sad he realized it would be impossible for him to provide leadership from the seat of his car.
He needed communication with people and he took the natural step of calling officials together to provide the necessary leadership in face of the threat.
For three days, Fahy had managed flood control efforts, with help from other city officials, from his car, which was parked in the driveway of Johnsons Standard Service, 401 N. Broadway.
They stayed in that spot, without ever abandoning the car, until they knew it would be necessary to widen the scope of their activities.
Whenever Fahy had a policy problem, during that first flood, he would get in touch with McCutcheon, who would render his best judgment.
Faced with a second threat, city officials conferred at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 12, with those from utilities, federal, state and county agencies.
Learning of the new danger to Minot through its own investigations, the Corps of Army Engineers responded immediately to the need.
Myron Tiemens, area engineer from the St. Paul district of the Corps, was in Minot during the initial flood. He was assigned to direct flood control operations of that agency.
Utility officials, on completion of their conference with the Corps and those from the city, began installation of two telephones for each of 10 command posts, along with a hot line to the Civil Defense office and dial phones for outside calls.
Until phones were available in the City Council chambers at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, April 13, calls were taken from other telephones in the Civic Center.
Delegated command posts at the Flood Control Center, in the Council Chambers, were the news media, Corps, Minot Air Force Base, Ward County, Mayor Johnson and city, with two other posts shared by Northern States Power Co., Montana Dakota Utilities Co. and municipal utilities and another for the switchboard operator.
Mayor Johnson, until about noon April 13, broadcast every half hour to inform citizens of the danger and advise them to evacuate areas within the flood zone.
Broadcasts to the people of Minot were subsequently extended to an hourly schedule.
With the passing of the initial intense period of evacuation, Mayor Johnson, after three days, reduced his broadcasts to three times daily.
All four Minot radio stations, for about two weeks, coordinated their news services and two of them broadcast around the clock.
In talking later with Fahy and the mayor, Jack Henry, deputy manager for the midwest area of the Red Cross, St. Louis, commented that it was the first time in his experience the he had seen leadership of the type displayed in Minot.
One thing unique about Minot, Henry said, was the way the people were able to relocate themselves - thanks to the fantastic amount of help from people both within the city and from surrounding farms and towns. This greatly reduced the job normally required of the Red Cross in such a major disaster.
It is to the credit of Minot that never once did its government leaders feel the need for martial law, many observers noted.
Visiting Minot on a Sunday morning, Gov. William Guy pointed out that martial law should only be invoked when there is a breakdown of local government. He could see that the citys government was functioning well in the face of crisis.
McCutcheon assured the governor that there would be no breakdown in civil authority.
Operating as best they could within the law and general police powers, the city had no special session of the council until well after the flood had passed its peak.
Not until April 29 were aldermen called into special session and that was to pave the way for the city to obtain federal grants for flood cleanup and repair.
During the interim crisis period, the mayor and Fahy made no decisions on which they might have doubt without consulting McCutcheon and other appropriate sources of information and know-how.
With the flood in recession there has been much less urgency around the Flood Control Center.
Fahy said the city has decided, until the mass return of persons to their homes in completed, to retain a telephone at Flood Control Headquarters in order to better serve Minot citizens, now faced with a mammoth cleanup job.