Delegation Urges Napolitano for Additional Flood Relief

Increased Flexibility with Federal Support Focus of Call with Secretary of Homeland Security

Washington - Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and Congressman Rick Berg today spoke with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today and reiterated the vital need for additional federal support for flood victims in North Dakota. 

In a conference call with the Secretary, the delegation asked for additional flexibility when it comes to utilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation resources for Minot. The North Dakota leaders noted that Hazard Mitigation funding played a critical role in helping Grand Forks recover following the Red River flood of 1997. 

“We have federal programs in place to deal with the kind of natural disasters we saw in Minot and Bismarck this year. But these programs are only beneficial if the resources they provide have sufficient flexibility to the situation on the ground,” the delegation told Napolitano. “That’s why it was so important to lay out completely the challenges facing the people of Minot and north-central North Dakota, so that the federal government can continue to be an active and effective partner as we recover from this once-in-a-generation flood.” 

The delegation noted its appreciation for Secretary Napolitano’s willingness to re-evaluate how the nearly $60 billion in federal support through the Hazard Mitigation program best fits the needs of Minot, including how to incorporate a more significant flood control project along the Souris River. 

Under FEMA’s current cost-benefit formulation, only 30-35 of the nearly 4,000 homes effected by this year’s disaster would qualify for a buy-out to better protect the city from future flooding. The delegation has argued that number was woefully insufficient and that hazard mitigation resources could and should be used to broaden the number of homes bought out. 

To date, nearly $350 million in federal disaster aid has been awarded to North Dakota, with almost $90 million in FEMA Individual Assistance having been awarded to those in Ward County most affected by this year’s flooding.