Hoeven, Conrad, Dalrymple Call On CORPS to Step Up Assistance to Missouri River Communities

BISMARCK – Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad and Governor Jack Dalrymple met in Bismarck today with high-level Army Corps of Engineers officials to ensure that communities at risk in the Missouri River Basin get the technical and direct assistance they need to mount a successful flood fight effort.  

The senators, governor and city and county officials led Corps officials on a tour of flood- impacted areas of Bismarck-Mandan prior to the meeting to assess flood defenses and identify resources the communities need for an effective flood fight. Following the tour they met at the City/County Building to give state and local officials and the public an opportunity to ask Corps officials questions regarding federal resources and the strategy for fighting rising waters over the coming days and weeks. 

“The magnitude of planned releases makes clear that this could be a long, difficult summer for communities along the Missouri River Basin,” Hoeven said. “I’ve asked General McMahon and Colonel Ruch here to provide residents, businesses and local leaders with iron-clad assurances that the agency will spare no effort or resource to help them fortify themselves against rising Missouri River waters. That must include building and raising dikes, raising roads, and taking any and all measures necessary to ensure access and protect life and property.” 

“Seeing the mass of water firsthand, it is clear that the threat to the homes and businesses in Bismarck, Mandan and surrounding communities remains serious,” Senator Conrad said. “Even so, the work put in by volunteers, residents, the Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, and city and state officials has been swift and appreciated. As we continue to hope for the best, the federal government stands ready to partner with state and local efforts to minimize the flood’s severe impact and aid in the clean-up and recovery.”

“It’s important that the Corps’ Gen. John McMahon and Col. Robert Ruch are here to see firsthand the existing flooding along the Missouri River and what we are going to be up against with additional releases from Garrison Dam,” Dalrymple said. “We want to make sure the Corps and other federal agencies understand the severity of the situation, that they are fully engaged and are doing everything they can to assist us in our flood fights. We will need federal assistance to not only fight flooding, but also to help cover costs for flood protection efforts and flood damages.”  

Attending the meeting were Brig. Gen. John McMahon, who oversees the Corps’ northwest region, and Omaha District Commander Col. Robert Ruch who has jurisdiction over the Missouri River. Also participating were Bismarck Mayor John Warford, Mandan Mayor Tim Helbling, Burleigh County Commissioners, Morton County Commissioners, Maj. Gen. Dave Sprynczynatyk, State Water Commissioner Todd Sando, and Tom Nelson representing Congressman Rick Berg’s office. 

An above-normal snowpack and extraordinarily high rainfall over the past several weeks have filled the available flood control storage behind the Garrison Dam and, as a result, the water level of the reservoir is nearing the top of the spillway causing flooding downstream. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is increasing releases from the Missouri River dams, including Garrison to historic levels in order to make room for additional runoff expected from the mountain snowpack and prevent further downstream flooding. The additional releases will prevent an uncontrolled flow into the Missouri River, exacerbating flooding to downstream communities and adverse impacts to agricultural and industrial properties.