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North Dakota Partnerships Pave the Way for Recovery, Safer Future

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Posted by: Public Affairs

Officials look over a map of Minot, North Dakota.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller (right), Associate Administrator of the FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple (second from right), FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Deanne Criswell (center), FEMA Associate Administrator of Response and Recovery William Carwile (left), and FEMA Region VIII Flood Insurance and Mitigation Division Director Jeanine Petterson discuss flood recovery concerns with engineers and other state and local officials at Minot's City Hall.

Recently, David Miller, Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration, and Bill Carwile, Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, visited North Dakota. During their visit, they met with top state and local officials, toured flood damaged areas from the air and the ground, and saw first-hand the impacts of flooding along the Souris and Missouri Rivers and in the Devils Lake Basin, including the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe. They came to look, listen and learn about the challenges and the hopes of area leadership.

Their goal was to look for ways to improve the local, state, tribal, private sector and federal partnerships needed for ongoing recovery and future mitigation.

David Miller shared his thoughts on the trip:

Bill and I toured areas of Bismarck and Mandan, Minot/Ward County and Devils Lake. We visited with FEMA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff and met with state and local leaders, including Governor Dalrymple, Adjutant General Sprynczynatyk, State Flood Recovery Coordinator Major General Sagsveen, and representatives from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services. On Friday morning, I also met with Senators Conrad and Hoeven and Representative Berg, and locals leaders representing the Souris River Basin, including Mayors Curt Zimbelman and Jerome Gruenberg.

Throughout our visit we engaged in a discussion of the recovery efforts for each of the affected areas. I listened to the passionate and well articulated concerns of state and local leaders and heard about their commitment to the future. It is apparent that while each area has unique challenges, the foundation for a safer future rest with building a sustainable, well-coordinated and comprehensive approach to their ongoing flooding risks.

Strategic Long Term Recovery
I returned from the visit to the Souris River Basin impressed that state and local officials are taking the lead to develop a strategy and program for recovery that will include floodplain management, control projects, and acquisitions along with plans for the environment, historical considerations and future development. These plans may include both structural and non-structural solutions. While flood protection needs to be driven at the state and local level, I see an opportunity for federal support and participation as their concepts are flushed out, goals further defined and specific projects indentified.

It was extremely valuable for me to visit the Devils Lake Basin, especially from the air – for which I thank the North Dakota National Guard. This is an area I have long heard about but this was my first visit. I want to thank the local leaders who took the time to brief me on the situation, and for their straightforward and clear summary of how this flood event (that began in 1993) has impacted their infrastructure, their communities and most importantly their citizens. I know we will have continued involvement as part of the state and Army Corps of Engineers-led efforts and I am committed to exploring ways our programs, can be used to support the Corps’ recovery and mitigation strategies.

David Miller, Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration and William Carwile, Associate Administrator, FEMA Response and Recovery survey ongoing recovery efforts in Minot.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller, Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration and William Carwile, Associate Administrator, FEMA Response and Recovery survey ongoing recovery efforts in Minot following historic flooding from the Souris River this Spring. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those who were affected by the flooding.

Bill Carwile emphasized the importance of seeing a disaster first-hand, and the importance of partnerships:

Let me add that I too benefited from seeing first-hand the complexities surrounding long-term recovery challenges in North Dakota. Seeing a disaster from the ground is always beneficial, but this trip proved especially valuable thanks to the time we were able to spend with the governor, state officials, and community leaders. I focused my time in the Souris River Basin and the surrounding areas.

Like David, I found both the aerial perspective and the ground tours extremely valuable. But nothing impacted me more than driving through flood damaged neighborhoods and then walking through a home that was destroyed. While state and local leaders, with supplemental support from FEMA, the private sector, other federal agencies, and the volunteer organizations have made progress, good progress, it is clear that there is still a long way to go. And while the challenges are great, so are the opportunities. One of my specific recommendations is that we coordinate with the State to evaluate the need to exercise components for the National Disaster Recovery Framework to help support the ongoing recovery efforts.

My message to the local community is to continue to build your local, state, federal and private sector team. As I told FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate when I returned from North Dakota, we need to do all we can within FEMA to support the state, flood-impacted communities, and individuals as they continue the efforts to rebuild, and define projects and strategies for future flood protection.
Last Updated: 
06/18/2012 - 16:17

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