Minot pushing Corps of Engineers for federal help in flood recovery

Jul 7, 2015

The new commander of the Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division got his first on-site look at the impact of the 2011 Souris River Flood.

As Dave Thompson reports, state and local officials want General Michael Wehr and the Corps to remember Minot – when it comes time for federal funding.

The numbers tell the story: 4100 structures engulfed; 11,000 people evacuated; hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. And Minot Mayor Chuck Barney says the flood changed the psychology of the community.

“Every spring, every major rain event – our phones go crazy, because of the trepidation that the flood of 2011 caused," said Barney. "And what we’re looking for is to remove that from our psyche, so that our citizens can sleep well at night.”

Minot and the Souris Valley are already working on some parts of the billion-dollar flood control project – such as flood walls and protecting the city’s water plant. And that’s happening without Corps participation.

“There’s a sense of urgency here,” said Ryan Ackerman with the Souris Valley Water Resources District.  “The climate has changed. The hydrology has changed. We’re in a wet cycle. And there have been some things done in the upper portion of the basin that are causing us more runoff than we used to have.”

State and local officials say that’s important – because the Corps will soon choose up to 10 projects as “starts,” – those worthy of a feasibility study. They worry that the Corps may look at the work already done – and decide the Souris River project no longer meets the cost-benefit analysis.

Wehr says he’s impressed with the efforts Minot and the basin have already undertaken.

“I can tell you some other example and other assignments – they are not – I dare say they don’t have the courage or guts to go forward like you are with this project,” said Wehr.

After the meeting, Barney said he believes Wehr got the message.

“I have great confidence that he’s going to take that back to his administration and help us get one of those starts," said Barney.