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Dave Olson, Published March 23 2010

FEMA to Moorhead: Flood prep impressive

Moorhead hosted several top state and federal officials Monday as the city watched the flooding Red River continue to fall after cresting Sunday at 36.99 feet.

The city has seen little damage from the flood, including the basement of a flood buyout home that got 3 feet of water in it, said Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland.

Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said it is clear the area prepared well for this year’s flood.

“This has been a tremendous response here. A lot of lessons learned from last year were applied this year,” Fugate said.

He said federal and state officials will soon begin to make preliminary damage assessments in communities across Minnesota.

Fugate said if total damage in the state reaches a certain threshold, which he estimated at an estimated

$6 million, it could lead to a presidential declaration of a major disaster. This could put local governments in line to receive reimbursement for things such as flood preparation costs and the costs of repairing damage to roads and parks.

Given the lack of widespread damage to private property in Moorhead, officials said it is unlikely individual assistance will be necessary from FEMA.

Fugate said a lot of effort went into making the flood something of a nonevent.

“Just because we didn’t have a lot of damage doesn’t mean the seriousness of this response was not something that took a lot of work,” Fugate said.

Voxland said Moorhead is looking to make another round of buyouts of flood-prone homes, but federal programs won’t be used.

Instead, Moorhead hopes to receive roughly $22 million in state bonding money.

Of that, about half would go toward the 42 to 45 homes the city wants to purchase, with the other half going to pay for the cost of placing gates on storm sewer outlets to the river, Voxland said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555