Souris River Basin application for millions in flood recovery money takes 5-pronged approach


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MINOT, North Dakota — Souris River Basin officials are hoping a five-pronged approach to disaster resilience will secure a top spot in a competition for nearly $1 billion in federal money.

Minot, Ward County and the Souris River Joint Board together are competing against nearly 70 other applicants in the Housing and Urban Development's National Disaster Resiliency Competition, which aims to help communities recover and enhance resilience in future disasters.

Officials on Tuesday night unveiled a proposal focusing on five areas: flood protection and river management; safe, affordable housing; resilient transportation and infrastructure; economic development; and strategies to support vulnerable populations, the Minot Daily News reported ( ).

The existing flood protection system was built based on data assembled over 70 years including a large period of relative drought, according to Ryan Ackerman with Ackerman-Estvold Engineering. He said officials have a better understanding since the June 2011 flood that damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 homes and other structures, causing nearly $700 million in damage.

He said officials plan to protect urban areas with levees and flood walls.

"The future safety and security of our community is depending on it and ... our friends and our neighbors do not deserve to live in towns of fear," Ackerman said.

And in rural areas, "we will give them options to remove their structures in the flood plains or otherwise protect them," he said.

The first phase of the HUD competition requires communities to develop an outline of what they want to achieve. The application is due March 15, with results announced in June. Those selected for the competition's second phase will develop specific projects that will be eligible for up to $30 million. Projects are due in October, with award recipients named in December.

Resident Shaun Sipma said Tuesday that the valley has rebuilt from previous floods only to flood again.

"We need to rethink this process of how we are rebuilding," he said.

Information from: Minot Daily News,

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