More than $185 million in FEMA funds have assisted Souris Valley

In the two years since historic flooding struck the Souris River Valley, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $185 million in assistance to help the region recover, the agency reported this week.

This is funding that has gone directly to residents or local communities to restore homes or damaged public infrastructure and enact measures to lessen the impact of future disasters. The agency also manages a program that provided temporary housing for more than 2,100 households at its peak. That program ends Sept. 24.

FEMA continues to maintain a presence in the Souris River Valley, with about 50 personnel still in the region and additional support coming from the regional office in Denver.

Following the 2011 flood, FEMA had received 8,256 applications for assistance from residents, representing about 80 percent of the 10,286 applications received statewide following disasters that year. The $91.2 million distributed to county residents for rental assistance, home repairs and other serious disaster-related needs represented 95 percent of the total $95.8 million for the state.

Of the nearly $242 million approved statewide for infrastructure assistance following the 2011 floods, nearly $90 million was provided to the four Souris River Valley counties of Ward, Renville, McHenry and Bottineau. Among the larger recipients of assistance were: the City of Minot, $8.6 million; City of Burlington, $1.6 million; Minot Park District, $3 million; and Ward County, including townships, $10.3 million.

The largest beneficiary of public assistance funds has been 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 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.

More than $70 million was provided by FEMA to North Dakota to distribute to hazard mitigation projects statewide. The state is considering potential projects to share in funds yet to be allocated.

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, Burlington and Minot.