General Flood Recovery Questions
Last updated on December 27, 2012
Q. When is the City going to start buying out homes in the valley?
A. The City is already in the process of doing voluntary property acquisitions with up to 108 homeowners. These were identified in late 2011/early 2012, separate from any enhanced flood protection plan, and chosen by the City as ones they would like to acquire to provide flood mitigation benefit as well as access and open space for emergency flood protection. Of these properties, 84 homeowners have signed a purchase agreement with the City. Minot is currently in the process of going through the appropriate federal environmental assessments, state requirements (including from the State Historical Society of North Dakota), abstract preparations and other steps to ensure a clean title. These property acquisitions started in late September 2012 and the City anticipates finishing these acquisitions in early 2013.
As for properties that are currently under the "footprint" of the enhanced flood protection plan that was supported by the Minot City Council in April, the City is still working to secure the funding partners needed to push forward with property acquisitions. At this time, there is no firm timeline available for when these property acquisitions will take place. A request is in the Governor's Budget for $61 million from the 2013 State Legislature that would make a second round of voluntary property acquisitions a reality. These acquisitions would be made to homes within the footprint of the enhanced flood protection plan. The process of formulating guidelines, policies and procedures related to this round of acquisitions is currently under way.
Q. What is currently being done by the Corps of Engineers to help the City?
A. This summer, the Corps of Engineers made the City aware of a preliminary study related to flood risk reduction plans for the Mouse River Basin. The Corps indicated they are working to find funding to do a reconnaissance study (the next level of study) to determine whether or not raising Lake Darling Dam and/or increasing target flows related to releases of water from dams along the Mouse River would help in protecting the region against future floods similar to the 2011 flood. It is unknown when this study will be finished, although it is anticipated that the study will take no more than a year, if/when the project begins.
Q. How much help has FEMA provided in our flood recovery efforts?
A. The City of Minot has requested reimbursement from FEMA for federal funding on approximately ten million dollars of repairs. Of this, the City has received approximately 80 percent or eight million dollars in reimbursement. The City is continuing to work with FEMA and the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services for reimbursement on the denied portion of the funds. These were for FEMA-eligible flood recovery projects that included sanitary sewer lift station repairs, water well cleaning and mold remediation, pedestrian bridge repairs and other activities.
A key effort made by FEMA last year, that has continued through 2012, is the direct housing mission where roughly $40 million was spent to prepare multiple locations for FEMA Temporary Housing Units (THUs). ). Approximately 700 families/individuals in Ward County (as of the end of 2012) are living in a FEMA THU. As well, FEMA provided nearly $90 million in the valley to individuals for rental assistance or home repairs in the form of individual grants. Additional information about FEMA's involvement in the flood recovery process in the Mouse River Valley can be found online at www.minotrecoveryinfo.com/news.
Q. Aside from the programs being proposed in the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding, where else can a homeowner go for assistance to rebuild a home?
A. There are a number of non-profit organizations in the region who have various amounts of funding that a person might be able to apply for. The Souris Valley Long Term Recovery Committee secured a state-funded Housing Rehabilitation and Retention grant, with the average individual grant paying out approximately $4,600. These grants are for those who owned and plan on living in their rebuilt flooded home. You can find an application form online at www.svunitedway.com or by stopping by the Souris Valley united Way office in downtown Minot at 15 2nd Avenue SW.
Q. What are the next steps on the enhanced flood protection plan - I had heard the engineering team is going to do a different study related to protection?
A. The City of Minot, through the Souris River Joint Water Resources Board, requested that the ND State Water Commission continue to work with the same engineering team who presented the first plan to look at a phased approach. This approach would include phasing in the proposed project and exploring the option of an enhanced flood protection plan that protects the City for flows between 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) water flow and 15,000 cfs. This would allow other partners (Canadians, International Souris River Board, U.S. Corps of Engineers, etc.) to work on potential changes to water management that would provide additional protection against a flood similar to what occurred in 2011.
The engineering team working on a phased-in design of an enhanced flood protection plan anticipates that they will have this ready near the beginning of 2013.
Q. Does the City have a list of qualified contractors that can work on my property?
A. The City does require those companies with certain construction skills to maintain a license with the City of Minot. This includes those who are working with concrete/excavating, plumbing, electrical, or gas/heating. A list of those contractors that have a current license for this work can be found on the Minot Recovery Information website, www.minotrecoveryinfo.com/progress.
Q. Where can I go to view the maps related to the enhanced flood protection plan that was done over the winter?
A. The website, Mouse River Plan, can still be viewed at www.mouseriverplan.com. All the maps, explanations and documents associated with the February 29, 2012 Preliminary Engineering Report can be viewed at this website or by visiting the Minot Public Library at 516 2nd Ave. SW.