Minot, North Dakota, is currently experiencing some pretty devastating flooding. I visited Minot on Wednesday to review response and recovery operations there, to meet with State and local officials, as well as the FEMA team on the ground. State and local officials have been doing an amazing job keeping their citizens safe and supporting disaster survivors. Given the large amount of damage caused by the flooding, the fact that there has been no loss of life is a true testament to the importance of the swift actions leaders took in order to ensure safety. Mayor Zimbelman of Minot, Mayor Gruenberg of Burlington, Governor Dalrymple, and The Adjutant General, General Sprynczynatyk, have been leading their teams in doing great work, and I’m proud of the FEMA team that’s supporting their efforts.
Minot, ND, June 29, 2011 -- Rich Serino, FEMA deputy administrator, surveys flooding in Minot with The Adjutant General, General Sprynczynatyk.
I surveyed flooding throughout Minot and nearby affected counties by helicopter with General Sprynczynatyk. The devastation is severe. Infrastructure, homes, and businesses are affected. Many buildings are completely submerged by water, with roofs barely visible. But even with all the devastation, there were also many success stories with flood-fighting measures. As we surveyed other counties affected by flooding, I saw where the Corps of Engineers was working on protective measures for other structures and neighborhoods.
Levees had been built to protect many public buildings and critical infrastructure, including an elementary school, helping minimize damage. The preparations made by state and local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue to contribute to the flood-fighting efforts.
Minot, ND, June 29, 2011 -- General Sprynczynatyk discusses issues with Richard Serino (left), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deputy administrator, during a disaster recovery meeting with state and local officials in Minot, North Dakota.
Minot Mayor Zimbelman, Burlington Mayor Gruenberg, North Dakota Governor Dalrymple, and General Sprynczynatyk, helped me understand the needs and concerns of survivors and the community at large. I explained the importance of FEMA’s role in providing assistance to disaster survivors. Based on information gathered in joint damage assessments, FEMA was also able to make available individual assistance programs in three more counties, bringing needed disaster assistance to more individuals and business owners. FEMA was assisting in protective flood-fighting measures in communities across North Dakota long before flooding began, and FEMA will be in North Dakota for the long haul, providing tools to help the community and survivors rebuild.
Minot, ND, June 29, 2011 -- Richard Serino (left), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deputy administrator, meets with Faith based Volunteer Agencies at the FEMA/State Disaster Recovery Center in South Minot, North Dakota.
I also had a meeting with the Small Business Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Lutheran Disaster Services, and other faith-based and volunteer groups, thanking them for the joint effort they have made to assist disaster survivors ever since flooding preparations began. They are such an important part of the team, and the work they have done and are continuing to do is a true testament to the good that can come of a “whole community” approach to emergency management.
One of the highlights of my visit was when I met with disaster survivors at a local disaster recovery center and shelter. Being able to offer a small amount of comfort and a listening ear to disaster survivors is one of the more rewarding aspects of my job. One conversation I had with a survivor in a Red Cross shelter especially reinforced the community coming together.
The survivor told me how he had taken his car into the shop for repairs prior to the flooding. When he arrived to pick it up a couple days later, the shop owner told him that he didn’t have to pay for the repairs, even though the bill was around $2,000. The owner told him he had been through enough. This is just one example of neighbors helping neighbors, working together during a community’s time of need to make rebuild after disaster a little bit easier.
As I did while visiting Minot, I want to encourage individuals in the eligible counties to register for assistance with FEMA and to visit a disaster recovery center to speak face-to-face with officials from FEMA and the state for more information on available assistance. We remain committed to assisting survivors and communities alongside the other members of the emergency management team, and we’ll be here as long as it takes to help this community recover and rebuild.
Minot, ND, June 29, 2011 -- Richard Serino, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deputy administrator, visits with disaster survivor Dona Young at the Red Cross shelter in Minot, North Dakota.