Hoeven: FEMA Flood Maps Must Reflect Benefits Fargo Flood Control Will Bring, Keep Rates Affordable

Senator Working Four-Part Approach to Red River Valley Flood Protection

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted a roundtable in Fargo with Roy Wright, administrator for mitigation with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Hoeven organized the event to ensure that the agency’s programs are working for state and local governments, and above all, residents. The senator is pushing to ensure that FEMA’s flood maps adequately reflect how Fargo’s permanent flood control project will protect homes in the flood plain.

Specifically, Hoeven reviewed the impacts of FEMA’s new flood plain maps on insurance rates and the agency’s future plans for remapping. Hoeven said residents need assurances that FEMA will work with them, so that programs such as hazard mitigation assistance and flood insurance can be as cost-effective as possible. The senator chairs the Appropriations Committee for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees a $40 billion budget, including the budget for FEMA.

“It is vital that we do all we can to protect our communities from flooding,” Hoeven said. “That can only happen if our federal programs and policies meet our people’s actual needs and are implemented in a way that is fair to North Dakota homeowners and businesses. We arranged today’s meeting so that FEMA officials can hear straight from our state and local leaders about the progress we have made in mitigating flood risks in the Red River Valley, our plans for future protection and the difficulties we face in the way the agency currently runs some federal programs.”

Hoeven is working toward a four-part, comprehensive flood protection plan for the Red River Valley (RRV), including:

  • Regional flood protection including dikes, levees and other flood protection infrastructure. The federal government has contributed nearly $36 million toward such projects in the Fargo area since 2011, which includes over $16 million for home buyouts to prevent future losses, nearly $15 million for water and sewer system updates and nearly $5 million for new and updated infrastructure, such as bridge replacements and levees.
  • Upstream flood protection. Hoeven worked as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and conferee on the 2014 farm bill conference committee to create programs and provide funding for rural water management and flood protection, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Last July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will use these programs to provide $50 million in targeted assistance to the region to address upstream concerns.

Hoeven also worked to include other conservation programs in the farm bill that support additional flood protection, like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The USDA named the RRV as part of a critical conservation area under RCPP and, earlier this year, awarded the Red River Retention Authority $12 million from the program, which will help support upstream flood protection efforts in the region.

  • Permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead. Hoeven last year worked to secure authorization for permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Previously, the senator worked to secure $35 million for project engineering and design (PED) through the annual appropriations process. Further, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 funding bill includes language allowing the administration to start new construction projects, which helps make the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection project competitive for funding. 
  • Affordable flood insurance premiums for homes and businesses. Senator Hoeven worked to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which prevents steep flood insurance rate increases, helping ensure that premiums are affordable for American families and businesses. The legislation also continues to allow homeowners to receive credit for flood proofed basements when determining flood insurance rates by allowing for basements to be measured at the lowest opening rather than the lowest floor.

Earlier this year, Senator Hoeven announced that FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate approved the City of Fargo’s application for the basement exception in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The delegation wrote a letter of support in December pressing Fugate to approve the request.