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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Fargo Leaders at Fault for Flood Insurance Scandal

Flood Insurance Scandal

Peeling back the layers of misinformation from Fargo, Cass county, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Fargo Forum can be a daunting task.

The aforementioned have all basically taken a position that only pro-project information is to be showcased and any negative information is to be suppressed or ignored.

Where Fargo’s Flood Insurance scandal begins, is with Fargo/Cass deciding that irresponsible encroachment into the last natural flood plain south of the city is an allowable venture.

Every square foot of development into the natural flood plain creates another square foot of impact onto others. Since 1969, development south of I-94 has raised the Red River peak flood crest by over 25 inches with the exact same CFS flow. That cumulative increase in flood crest is a major contributing factor to new FEMA flood insurance requirements.

Fargo leaders whimper and whine about flooding and flood insurance, yet drag their feet on completing permanent internal flood protection, which would address both concerns facing Fargo property owners. After 4 years of championing procedural milestones for the dam and diversion, where has Fargo done the same for permanent internal flood protection for the developed portions of Fargo that currently exist?

Even worse, is the irresponsibility of permitting new development into a known risk area, which is occurring right now, when there is a quantifiable impact as result of that encroachment.

Sandbag HESCO’s stacked two levels high lined the south side of 52nd ave, only a few years ago.

Today, new homes, streets, curb and gutter are being constructed in the natural flood plain without permanent flood protection along the exact same stretch of 52nd ave.

Were those HESCO’s used to instill fear into residents?

During the December 10th, 2014 Diversion Authority Public Outreach meeting, both Rodger Olsen (Cass County Joint Water Resource District Manager) and Rocky Schneider (Diversion Authority Public Outreach Committee) openly stated that the flood insurance threat is their best conduit for positive outrage.

December 10th, 2014
Public Outreach Transcript Excerpt
Ken Pawluck: part of it depends on when the next flood is, because, because, the floods are really what drive the activity, and if we have a flood this next spring, that, that, that will drive more activity than if we don’t have any flood as far as action by the feds and, and reaction.
Kevin Fisher: but unfortunately that would help our case to if we had that to get the diversion in, yet we don’t want a fl.. we, we, we really don’t want a flood.
Ken Pawluck: we don’t want the flood, but ya know what…, we have zero control over that happening.
(laughter)
Rodger Olsen: but the in…, insurance threat might be our…, conduit to…, continuing this forward, and, and giving us the support that we, y’know, we’re looking for.
Rocky Schneider: I think like you said, I think there’ll be, there…there… y’know positive outrage once those letters come out about… Why am getting this letter? Why hasn’t something been done? I think this is a positive thing because I think that’s… that’s what everyone’s working toward.
Kevin Fisher: especially when we get that homeowner that all of the sudden is being transferred to wherever and has got to sell their house and they didn’t take out the flood insurance…, now they try to sell it and they are like “what!-?” how come I didn’t that’s what this is going to cost ya…, and it’s like well…, y’know…, call the people to be and let’s get it done.

 

Preying on fears and anxiety to promote the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project is a conscious decision. A decision that calls into question the morals and ethics of proponents willing to exploit loopholes that place residents and property owners at risk, while claiming they are working tirelessly to protect them, for the alternative agenda of development expansion where it causes the greatest risk, harm and cost.

Scandal Part 1

Why are Fargo and Cass county officials allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the entity hired to help Fargo with flood protection, to lobby FEMA to raise the 100 year level – knowingly placing more people at risk of mandatory flood insurance, when Fargo and Cass county are pointing fingers at FEMA as the villain of raising the 100 year flood level of their own accord?

Fargo identified Tier 1 and Tier 2 plans for their “Intended Growth Sector”. FEMA looks at growth plans of NFIP participating cities. Fargo’s 2007 growth plan indicated encroachment into the natural flood plain. FEMA assesses risk as a result of changing conditions and issues FIRM maps accordingly. In short, the city of Fargo that existed post 1997 flood is very different than that of 2009, or the city outlined in the 2007 growth plan. According to the USGS historical gage records, encroachment into the natural flood plain from 1997 to 2009 caused the Red River to crest over 7 inches higher at the same CFS flow.

Does a conflict of interest exist in Fargo’s allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to play both ends against the middle? Especially, when the end game is to move water from a flood prone area onto others without their consent, for the sake of a growth plan?

December 10th, 2014 Public Outreach Transcript Excerpt
Kevin Campbell: There’s already dialogue between the Corps and FEMA, Corps is, is encouraging FEMA to adopt the Corps new flood plain levels.

 

Scandal Part 2

How can Fargo and Cass official blatantly misrepresent the historic 2009 flood event as a 50 year event, when last week Eric Dodds (AE2S Project Consultant) provided information that clearly indicates that Fargo exceeded a 100 year flood event in 2009?

How can the new, upcoming 100 year flood level still be 1.44 feet (17.28 inches) lower than the peak 40.84 foot 2009 crest, yet, proponents erroneously maintain 2009 was only 50 year flood event?

Why create fear and anxiety that the 2009 flood was nothing, alleging a greater flood is coming?

December 10th, 2014 Public Outreach Transcript Excerpt
Eric Dodds: The 100 year flood level is also a moving target,
Rodger Olson: right
Eric Dodds: we know it today is 38.4′ in January it’s 39.4′, the Corps is proclaiming it’s 41′ something., and it won’t take too long for FEMA to moves to the Corps number.

 

Scandal Part 3

Eric Dodds (AE2S – Project Consultant) has inferred on several occasions that FEMA will be adopting the Corps numbers, however, there has not been one document publicly disseminated from FEMA that supports that speculation.

Even more curious is when questioned by Kevin Fisher (NDAR Director – Fargo Moorhead Area Association of Realtors), on when that adoption is expected to occur, Eric Dodds claims that he doesn’t know and that he is not “intimately close to it”.

So why would Dodds assert a speculation with conviction, when it appears that he is not intimately close to information that supports the speculation?

Is this another ploy using fear and anxiety to coerce local officials and residents to support a project that purports protection against conditions and flood levels that do not currently exist?
 

Scandal Part 4

Violation of Executive Order 11988: If the natural flood plain were left intact, the current U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claim that 150,000 acre feet of staging reservoir storage is needed would fail, which would in-turn cause the project cost benefit ratio to fail.
 

Scandal Part 5

On the topic of existing conditions, why hasn’t the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided a benchmark comparison that leaves the natural flood plain capacity intact?

Was this done to avoid the inevitable conclusion that placing a brick in a cake pan full of water would clearly illustrate that natural flood plain development relocates water impacts onto others, which is directly related to the increase of the 100 year flood level and flood plain insurance requirements?

December 10th, 2014 Public Outreach Transcript Excerpt
Kevin Fisher: So my question to you guys, you know better, how quickly will they adopt the Corps? Are we waiting another 10 years or could it be fairly quickly…, I don’t know?
Eric Dodds: I th…, well, I don’t, we don’t know. I think our expectation is that this next change will come quicker than the one we’re about to get to but…, I’m not, I’m not intimately close to it so I don’t know for sure.

 

Scandal Part 6

Why is a “Director” of the Fargo Moorhead Area Association of Realtors suggesting that Fargo should stop internal flood protection to ensure a flood insurance requirement exists to coerce support for the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project?

December 10th, 2014 Public Outreach Transcript Excerpt
Kevin Fisher: I know they’re working on this, city of Fargo is working on a continuous levee system right now on Drain 27. It might be five years yet before it’s done.., but ahhh…, basically anything north of the Rose Creek Coulee then…, could be protected then…, possibly moved out of the flood plain…, ummm…, that’s great…, obviously I live on the south side…, and that’s not great for me…, but ummm…, part of me almost wishes that wouldn’t happen so those people would push harder to…, to get the diversion then too instead of saying “Well I’m gonna be protected anyway it doesn’t matter.”

 

Fargo, Cass county and the Diversion Authority are gambling dangerously with the financial futures of residents by pitting FEMA flood levels and insurance requirements against the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion, while they manipulate the threat of tax assessments to coerce support for the proposed project.

The worst case scenario would be to have FEMA adopt the Corps numbers and not receive federal funding while Fargo drags it feet in completing internal flood protection and the dam and diversion project eventually gets scuttled.

To date, the Fargo Diversion Authority has spent more on the proposed project without turning a shovel of dirt for the diversion channel or high hazard dam than neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota’s flood protection, which runs the entire length of the city.

It’s time to hold project proponents and elected leaders accountable for Fargo’s failure in completing internal flood protection and intentionally leaving areas to rely on temporary flood measures.

Fargo has had five years to do what Moorhead did in two years, for around $104 million.

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