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Fact Sheet: Federal Agency Assistance to the Souris Valley

Release date: 
June 11, 2012
Release Number: 


Immediately following the June 2011 flooding in the Souris River Basin, federal agencies, under mission assignments from FEMA, responded to public health and safety needs throughout Ward County.  Federal life-saving and life-sustaining personnel worked under the direction, and at the request of, state and local leadership.  Below is a summary of the federal actions funded by FEMA and the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services to ensure communities and people in the area were protected from further harm and could begin their recovery.

In all, FEMA directed 28 federal response assignments at a cost of more than $60 million dollars to FEMA and almost $7 million to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

In addition, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program paid out on 488 claims for a total of $59,331,403.36 in McHenry, Reville and Ward counties.

Department of Health and Human Services

Members of Applied Public Health Teams from the Department of Health and Human Services integrated with local fire department, local health agencies, and structural engineers/building inspectors to assist with public health consultations and inspection of homes for reoccupation.

The teams visited approximately 4,600 homes damaged by the flood, meeting with residents as they returned home and providing environmental health consultations and technical assistance. They distributed post-flood information packets from the North Dakota Department of Health, and gave information on general clean-up activities, pumping out flooded basements, mold issues, household hazardous waste disposal, disinfection, asbestos, the safe use of electrical generators and personal health precautions. They also went door-to-door with structural engineers and building inspectors to assess health concerns such as contamination from wastewater, extent of mold coverage, asbestos, and other hazardous material risks. This mission was assigned by FEMA and cost $100,000, with 10 percent paid by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

Environmental Protection Agency

EPA was given four missions by FEMA: remove household hazardous wastes from the impacted area; decontaminate and prepare white goods and electronic waste for recycling; collect and process orphaned containers; and conduct environmental monitoring and sampling in impacted and work areas.

In total, EPA removed:

  • Nearly 6,000 units of white goods – air conditioners, refrigerators, and other household appliances. Freon, mercury, and other hazardous materials were removed by EPA and the scrap was turned over to the city of Minot for recycling.
  • More than 90,000 small containers, including paint, household cleaners, and small gas cans holding more than 15,000 gallons of gas which was sent to a fuel processor.
  • Several large containers, including propane tanks as large as 3,000 – 5,000 gallons, which were returned to their owners or sent to a Minot company for reuse.
  • 215 lead-acid batteries which were turned over to the city of Minot.
  • More than 550 cubic yards of electronic waste such as household electronics, computers, and television sets which were sent to a contractor for recycling.

In addition, EPA collected asbestos insulation from more than 220 households, conducted air sampling during cleanup activities, and conducted soil sampling in city parks once flooding subsided. This mission was assigned by FEMA and cost $5.2 million, with 10 percent paid by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

General Services Administration

GSA was given the mission to search for space, facilities and land to support FEMA. GSA also provided approximately 20 GSA fleet vehicles in support of the mission.

Its real estate team arranged the following leases:

  • The Joint Field Office in Bismarck.
  • The Area Field Office in Minot located at the State Fairgrounds.
  • Two land leases at the State Fairgrounds in Minot for FEMA trailer staging.
  • A land lease in Minot for a FEMA trailer park supporting flooding victims (still in operation).
  • A temporary space lease at the State Fairgrounds (while FEMA was preparing its Area Field Office for occupancy).
  • A space lease at the former “Y” building in downtown Minot for Housing Management Office Recovery (still in operation).
  • A space lease at the Medical Building in Minot for ESF-14 operations (lease ends July 15, 2012).
  • A space lease for a Disaster Recovery Center at the Dakota Mall in Minot.

There were many other spaces, buildings and lands that were donated by owners such as the city of Minot or the state of North Dakota which were used for the FEMA mission, including land for the base camp in Minot and land in Velva for other FEMA operations. FEMA paid GSA $84,000 for its services.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

  • OSHA evaluated and ensured the safety of response personnel and civilians by providing air sampling and site inspections, and giving seminars on hazard awareness. 
  • OSHA also helped the Vermiculite Asbestos Work Group develop public service announcements (vermiculite is a common insulation which often is contaminated with asbestos) and inspected the responders base camp.
  • This mission was assigned by FEMA and cost $94,000, with 10 percent paid by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

Public Safety and Security

Approximately 135 federal law enforcement officers from four different agencies were deployed to support local police and sheriff’s departments. They protected lives and property in the evacuated areas, maintained points of entry/exit in neighborhoods, did traffic control, patrolled and did other law enforcement duties as assigned. Safety officers came from the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Interior, and were coordinated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. One officer from Customs and Border Patrol was injured responding to a law enforcement request and remains in physical therapy. Local guards were hired by Federal Protective Services to provide security at FEMA facilities. This mission was assigned by FEMA and cost $3.6 million, with 10 percent paid by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • The Corps, at the request of the city of Minot, began funding and building temporary levees in the area on their own authority in April. They continued doing so with 16 levee contracts while the river crested multiple times through June. The temporary levee construction cost the Corps around $5 million for Minot alone, another $1 million for Sawyer, $600,000 for Burlington and $500,000 for Velva. The final crest, which overwhelmed the protection system, was almost three times the amount of water of the next highest crest.
  • Emphasis was put on the city’s priorities:
    • protecting the water treatment plant
    • protecting three schools
    • protecting 17 lift/pump stations
    • protecting, maintaining and raising the 3rd St. /4th Ave. levee
    • keeping the Broadway Bridge open
  • Current estimates are that ongoing repairs to the permanent levees and the pump stations, plus the scour at Velva, will cost more than $5 million, again funded by the Corps of Engineers.
  • After the floods, the Corps and its contractors were given the debris removal mission by FEMA. They removed more than 61,000 tons of debris within Ward County, including 54,000 tons from Minot. This included removing the temporary levees.  This mission was assigned by FEMA and cost $17 million, with 10 percent paid by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
  • The Corps designed and built the infrastructure at community group sites, totaling 848 pads at three primary locations. This mission was assigned by FEMA and cost $40 million, with 10 percent paid by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
  • More than 150 Corps of Engineers personnel were deployed for flood fighting and flood recovery operations.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The Fish and Wildlife Service did airboat missions and patrols on both the Red River and the Minot area. They were assigned that mission by FEMA, at a total cost of $100,000, with 10 percent paid by the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:12