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Minot to appeal FEMA flood map decision

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The Minot City Council has decided to appeal FEMA’s decision to change the flood maps for the city – a change that could force more Minot residents to buy flood insurance.

Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma said originally, FEMA’s flood maps used a 5000 cubic foot per second flow – which he said is essentially the normal Mouse River flow. But he said FEMA has changed its hydrology, so that it uses a 10,000 cfs flow rate, meaning more people would have to buy the insurance.

"That puts the footprint pretty close to what it was in 2011," Sipa said in an interview with Prairie Public. "Maybe not depth, but footprint-wise."

That 2011 flood was the flood of record.

Sipma said city officials believe when FEMA drew the new maps, it did not accurately calculate the amount of water the upstream dams can hold back. And he said 2011 was not a hundred-year event – it was much worse than that.

"We firmly believe it should be 8000 cfs," Sipma said. "That shrinks the footprint, and reduces the depth in some areas."

Sipma said that would make a difference for some homeowners, in the valley and the city of Minot as a whole, when it comes to the impact flood insurance rates and requirements would have.

"As flood insurance rates go up, values on those properties inversely go down," Sipma said. "And if we have a constant cost for city services, inevitably we would have a mill levy adjustment throughout the community that would impact everyone."

Sipma said that would amount to millions of dollars leaving the community, and going toward the National Flood Insurance Program.

"While we arguably say very strongly that flood insurance is important to have, as those costs go up, more money leaves the community," Sipma said.

Sipma said it will likely cost the city $250,000 to appeal the decision. He said it could be a precedent-setter, because he’s unaware of any other community who has taken this step.

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