By Brian Hvinden, External Affairs Officer
The 2011 Souris (Mouse) River Flood was one of the largest disasters in the history of FEMA Region VIII. More than 4,000 homes were damaged, with many residential areas inundated for more than a month. The flood also struck at a time of unprecedented economic growth, creating a severe housing shortage in Minot and surrounding communities.
To address the housing needs of the Souris Valley, FEMA established three group housing complexes, encompassing more than 800 individual sites. In addition, five manufactured housing parks were utilized and more than 1,100 manufactured housing units were placed on private property.
All families were placed into housing units by Christmas 2011, an accomplishment considering the shortage of contractors available and inhospitable winters. The region’s short building season created challenges for households trying to repair their flood damaged homes, with many having to rebuild from the ground up.
Now 27 months removed from the flood, it has been a collaborative effort that has resulted in the successful completion of this housing mission. The diligent efforts of FEMA housing staff have assisted residents in finding available rental housing and completing a highly successful housing unit sales program – which resulted in 265 units being sold to residents for permanent housing.
The Bank of North Dakota has provided low-interest loans to assist with these purchases. The Minot Housing Authority has worked with FEMA staff to assist residents who are eligible for HUD vouchers to find housing with that resource. And Hope Village provided critical volunteer labor and donated resources to help homeowners make repairs to their damaged homes.
One of the group sites constructed by FEMA will live on, as the landowner has decided to maintain a portion of the project as a manufactured home park for the foreseeable future. The site, now called Wheatland Village, is home to many of the residents who purchased housing units from FEMA.
Thanks to the efforts of federal, state and local governments, in partnership with volunteer agencies and the private sector, all of the 2011 Souris River flood survivors are once again in a permanent home. With this important milestone reached, the region can move forward to a better and brighter future.