MINOT, N.D. – In the two years since historic flooding struck the Souris Valley in North Dakota, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided more than $185 million in assistance to help the region recover. This is funding that has gone directly to residents or local communities to restore homes or damaged public infrastructure, as well as enact measures that will lessen the impact of future disasters. The agency also manages a program that provided temporary housing for more than 2,100 households, and is still assisting residents today.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
North Dakota received a federal disaster declaration on May 10, 2011, for statewide flooding. The initial declaration provided funding for public infrastructure. As flooding intensified, the declaration was expanded on June 24, 2011, to provide assistance to individuals and businesses as well. A total of 44 of 53 North Dakota counties were included as well as four tribal nations. FEMA continues to maintain a presence in the Souris Valley, with approximately 50 personnel still in the region, with additional support coming from the regional office in Denver.
FEMA received 8,256 applications for assistance from residents of the Souris Valley, representing about 80 percent of the 10,286 total for the state. Similarly, the $91.2 million distributed to residents for rental assistance, home repairs and other serious disaster-related needs represents 95 percent of the total $95.8 million for the state.
In addition, FEMA brought in nearly 2,200 manufactured housing units to provide housing for those displaced by the flood. More than 1,100 of those were place on private properties, allowing homeowners to stay near their damaged dwellings to make repairs. Units also were placed at five manufactured housing parks in Ward County. Three temporary housing sites were also constructed, including the 600unit Virgil Workman Village – which is the only one remaining in operation – still housing approximately 200 households.
Of the nearly $242 million approved statewide for infrastructure assistance following the 2011 floods, nearly $90 million was provided to the four Souris Valley counties (Ward, Renville, McHenry and Bottineau). Among the larger recipients of assistance were: the city of Minot - $8.6 million; the city of Burlington - $1.6 million, the Minot Park District - $3 million and Ward County (including townships) - $10.3 million.
The largest beneficiary of public assistance funds is the Minot Public Schools. FEMA is providing $24.5 million to replace Erik Ramstad Middle School and $5 million to replace Lincoln Elementary School. FEMA also has provided an additional $25 million for activities ranging from emergency protective measures to building repairs at other locations to temporary classrooms to replace offline facilities. The temporary classrooms were provided within 10 days of the planned starting date for the 2011-12 school year and are still in use.
Thus far, more than $4 million in funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) has been provided to the Souris Valley. Funding has been provided for generators, home acquisitions, mitigation planning, and engineering, permitting, and design work for a floodwall to protect the Minot Water Treatment Plant. HMGP provides funding for projects that seek to minimize the impact of future disasters, and is administered by the state. More than $70 million was provided by FEMA to North Dakota for projects statewide, with additional projects still under consideration.
FEMA also engaged its Long Term Community Recovery team in Ward County. Members of the public participated in a series of meetings to voice their views about the future of their communities. The information gathered at the meetings was used to develop the “Souris Basin Regional Recovery Strategy,” which was adopted by Ward County and the cities of Burlington and Minot.