Red River floods or oil patch bust, these two persevere

When NewsCut went to Moorhead, Minn., to cover the 2009 Red River flood, we were lucky enough to run into Todd and Donna Morse, one of three families we spent a week with, documenting their effort to save their homes, and pitching in where we could.

When I first met them, I was struck by their good nature in the face of disaster. As they sandbagged against the tide, they smiled.


“You look awfully happy for having a flood at the doorstep,” I said as I took their picture. So they accommodated me.


The couple, who found each other after their spouses died of cancer, won their fight that year and the same fight two years later, but eventually took the buyout, sold their home, and left Moorhead.

I can’t recall anyone I’ve ever met who knows so well how to take a punch.

Whatever happened to them? They’re still taking punches. WDAY in Fargo reported last night that they’re among the many who have taken a hard hit from the collapse of the oil industry in North Dakota.


They bought a motel in the Oil Patch — Killdeer, N.D., pop. 750. Times were good until they weren’t.

But, just as when they fought the Red River, the Morses are seeing better days ahead.

When that will be is anyone’s guess. Next week an official update on oil production in the region will be released, but yesterday the director of mineral resources told an oil industry group in Williston, “it’s going to be bad.”

  • MrE85

    Governor Dalrymple has ordered all ND state agencies to cut their budgets by 10%. The pain continues.

    • Veronica

      Didn’t they have budget surpluses for awhile? Where did that money go?

      My family faced this in the mid-80s in Wyoming. I was talking about it with my mom last night, since the town we lived in is facing yet another bust cycle. I can’t help but think some of this economic pain is the fault of political ideology and economic ignorance. There’s no doubt that busts follow booms–so for heaven’s sakes, plan for it.

      • MrE85

        The North Dakota legislature only meets every two years, so its hard for them to react to quickly changing circumstances.

  • PaulJ

    Could it be some people are just born that way?