Hoeven Helps Coordinate Flood Fight, Recovery Strategies With Officials From Ward and McHenry Counties, Federal Agencies

MINOT, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today met in Minot with officials from Ward and McHenry counties, as well as state and federal officials to help coordinate the latest flood fight efforts and recovery strategies in the region. Flooding is continuing in some areas of the Souris River Basin in north central North Dakota, where the river is reportedly at its highest level in more than 30 years.

Participating in the meeting were Minot City Council President Dean Frantsvog, Public Works Director Alan Walters, and Finance Director Cindy Hemphill; Burlington Mayor and Ward County Commission Chair Jerome Gruenberg; Ward County Highway Engineer Dana Larson; Sawyer City Councilman Brian Johnson; former Velva Mayor Cindy Shattuck; and McHenry County Commission Chair Gregg Boutilier. Also participating were U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District Levee Safety Program Manager Rick Hauck; FEMA Region VIII Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn; and FEMA Deputy Public Assistance Officer for North Dakota Paul Messner. 

Hoeven said FEMA and the Department of Emergency Services have already begun preliminary damage assessments (PDA) in a number of communities. Once these are completed and evaluated by FEMA, the agency can approve the full declaration, which will cover the federal cost share for flood protection measures and recovery efforts undertaken by cities, counties and the state in battling flood waters throughout North Dakota. The full declaration, if approved, will trigger federal cost share assistance for categories A-G, which covers the construction of roads, dikes and other flood protection measures as well as damages incurred to public infrastructure.

 “A number of North Dakota communities are still working to battle widespread flooding, which is why it’s essential that we get the full federal FEMA declaration the state requested,” Hoeven said. “That will cover the federal cost share for flood protection measures and recovery efforts undertaken by cities, counties and the state since February.”            

Hoeven this week again spoke with Region 8 FEMA Director Robin Finegan and FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer for North Dakota Willie Nunn to secure Federal Cost Sharing Assistance for flood protection measures and damages in addition to the current direct federal assistance. Regional Director Finegan told Senator Hoeven she was sending FEMA teams to work with the State Department of Emergency Management in order to expedite the preliminary damage assessments as part of getting the full declaration for cost recovery assistance. The Senator also stressed that the incident period should begin on Feb. 14 instead of April 5 as under the current partial declaration. 

The Senator is also introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate called the FEMA Common Sense and Cost Effectiveness Act of 2011, which will change the current FEMA rule that prevents construction of permanent flood protections on bought out lands. Every year, FEMA funds at great expense the building of temporary dikes in some flood-prone communities only to tear them down after high water has fallen. Senator Hoeven’s legislation would give FEMA the flexibility it needs to leave the levees in place. The measure will provide better flood protection for people and property, better fiscal stewardship, and save taxpayer dollars.”