Sen. Hoeven responds to concerns
John Hoeven, U.S. Senator
I want to respond to some concerns raised by Richland County Commissioner Perry Miller in a letter regarding flood protection legislation that I worked to pass in the U.S. Senate and am now working with Congressman Berg to get passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. My legislation will, in fact, save taxpayer dollars and better protect homeowners in the Red River Valley, while mitigating flood impacts both upstream and downstream.
Whether in Fargo, Wahpeton or other communities in the Valley, every year the U.S. Corps builds levees to mitigate flooding and then takes them down again on a repeated basis at great taxpayer expense. The reason is that current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy doesn’t allow for flood mitigation structures to be constructed on property acquired under the agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. In areas of frequent flooding, however, FEMA’s policy results in funding being used year after year to construct and tear down temporary levees.
Throughout the Red River Valley, for example, levees have been constructed annually, only to be removed at the end of the flood season, incurring significant costs to FEMA and local communities. In Fargo alone, the cost to build temporary levees last year was hundreds of thousands of dollars – the third year in a row such levees were built. These levees could have been made permanent, but because of current law, they were removed only to be built again the next year.
Furthermore, they have been constructed on roads outside of previously acquired FEMA property because not even the temporary construction of levees is permitted under current law. The estimated cost to rebuild them, in pretty much the same places, is in the millions of dollars – all at a cost to taxpayers. That makes no sense.
Building levees once – and leaving them in place – in any community subject to repeated flooding will provide better flood protection for people and property, better management by FEMA, and better stewardship for taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with Commissioner Miller to achieve solutions that will provide the best possible flood protection for all of the Red River Valley.
In response to: Defending Richland and Wilkin counties August 2nd, 2012