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Associated Press, Published June 29 2012

Minot residents want more flood aid for homeowners

MINOT, N.D. – Some Minot residents say the city’s plan for spending federal disaster recovery funds should include more money for flooded homeowners and less for administration and infrastructure.

Minot is getting nearly $68 million through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to help with the recovery from last summer’s historic Souris River flooding. The city’s plan for spending the money includes helping homeowners with repairs but also other measures such as developing affordable housing and repairing downtown infrastructure.

A public hearing was held Thursday night on the plan, which ultimately must get HUD approval. Several people spoke in favor of directing more of the funds to flood victims.

Infrastructure repairs such as a planned storm sewer project at a flood-prone underpass “is what we are paying taxes for,” said Gary Panasuk, who also objected to giving any of the money to developers.

The 2011 flood swamped more than 4,000 homes and businesses, destroyed two schools and forced 12,000 people from their homes. Damage was estimated at more than $1 billion. The HUD money is only part of the state and federal disaster money that is flowing into North Dakota’s fourth-largest city.

Part of the city’s plan for the HUD money sets aside $3.4 million to assist about 60 low- to moderate-income households.

“Sixty homes is a small number relative to the need in the community,” said Shirley Dykshoorn, state director with Lutheran Disaster Response.

Another $8.4 million is reserved to help about 50 households with reconstruction if their homes cannot be repaired. Another $5 million would support a 600-unit housing project in northeast Minot in exchange for half of the units qualifying as affordable housing.

Under HUD rules, the majority of projects paid for with the money must benefit low- to moderate-income people and families. City spokesman Mark Lyman said the plan proposes spending 63 percent of the money on projects to help people in those income categories.

The Minot City Council will consider the plan at a special meeting July 12. It must be submitted to HUD no later than July 23.

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