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FEMA: Grand Forks a model for disaster recovery

By Dave Thompson

Grand Forks, ND – A representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says he's happy that the Grand Forks area has recovered as fast as it has from the 1997 flood.

Ed Conley of Denver was in Grand Forks for the immediate aftermath of that devastating flood. Now he says the cities look great. And he says you can chalk that up to strong leadership.

Conley says he spent several months in New York after September 11th, and had a chance to observe Mayor Giuliani and his leadership style. He says he sees some parallels.

"And it's the power of positive leadership. It's early on, articulating a vision for the recovery. It's talking about the future. It's talking about hope. It's talking about how the disaster has not destroyed the spirit of what's here, and we can build on that. And expressing confidence that there will be a recovery, and it's going to be effective. That's what happened here. You start off on the right foot, with that positive leadership, and you carry one step forward every day. Then you see what happens."

Conley says the Grand Forks area can be a model for other cities who go through disasters.