FEMA looks back | News, Sports, Jobs
According to FEMA representatives in Minot over the weekend, lessons learned in overcoming the housing, coordination and funding challenges following the Souris River flood in 2011 helped shape the response of Federal Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
“The lessons that have been learned here have certainly been applied to many other recoveries that have occurred over the 10 year period,” said Ryan Pietramali, director of the recovery division.
Pietramali and Brian Hvinden, External Affairs Specialist, both at the FEMA regional office in Denver, are in Minot for the Resilient Together event today.
“We are really here to help the community look back” Hvinden said. “We have been involved on many different fronts, both immediately with housing and school support, but then in several long-term projects.”
A longer-term effort was to bring groups together for an innovative financing workshop to try to identify financing for flood protection and resilience.
“It was the first time that our agency did this, and I see a lot more to come”, said Pietramali.
The 2011 flood was a major operation for FEMA Region 8.
“There were a lot of immediate needs” said Pietramali. “Our public assistance and individual assistance programs have required significant capital expenditures to help the community rebuild.”
FEMA also provided other federal agencies and federal dollars to help with the reconstruction.
Statewide, FEMA coordinated $ 63.2 million in assistance from various federal agencies in 2011 and awarded $ 71.5 million in risk mitigation grants. Statewide, 10,286 people or households have registered for disaster assistance, and more than $ 95.5 million has been provided. The US Small Business Administration has also approved $ 257.2 million in low-interest loans.
The replacement of Erik Ramstad Middle School in Minot was FEMA’s largest public aid project with more than $ 24 million.
Pietramali said many FEMA staff members have gained experience helping North Dakota during floods from 2009 to 2013. One of those staff, Deanne Criswell, is now the administrator. from FEMA.
“We have 15 emergency support functions that address various facets of recovery and each of them has been activated for this event” Hvinden spoke about the flooding of the Souris River. Among these support functions, FEMA representatives in particular learned a lot about managing the scale of emergency housing needed in the Minot area, he said.
Due to the oil boom, traditional solutions such as rental housing, relocation or the use of commercial land to create housing were not available. The northern climate also required different attention to ensure that emergency accommodation was adequate, he said.
FEMA had brought more than 2,000 prefabricated houses to the Minot region for a temporary housing assignment that would last 27 months. All residents in need of housing were in emergency units as of Christmas 2011 – a notable achievement given the shortage of contractors and inhospitable weather, according to FEMA.
Going forward, FEMA continues to develop new floodplain maps, which, when completed, will bring a number of properties to high-risk areas and increase flood insurance premiums. Currently, FEMA is reviewing an appeal from the City of Minot regarding the technical aspects of a map project.
Pietramali said the FEMA team will eventually come back to the community with a new timeline on the mapping process. In the meantime, he said, people need to realize that the risk of flooding remains, and the most important step they can take is to purchase insurance.
Pietramali and Hvinden are however satisfied with the return of the Minot region since the 2011 floods.
“With hindsight, it was really quite remarkable” said Pietramali. “Watching over the past 10 years the resilience of the people here in Minot and Ward County, and what they have been able to do collectively to help rebuild this community has been a bit magical to watch, and I’m so happy that FEMA has been there to help them on this path.
“We provided the money and the technical support, but it’s really the people here in Minot who have done a fantastic job,” he added. “Looking back on where they were on that really tough day and where they are now, it’s remarkable.”
In numbers :
– 6 FEMA long-term recovery open houses in Minot and Burlington.
– 488 National Flood Insurance Program claims of $ 59.3 million paid in the Souris Valley.
– 850 lots built on three collective sites for emergency accommodation.
– 1,958 FEMA dwellings occupied at peak.
– 2,168 SBA disaster loans for $ 240.9 million approved for residents and businesses of Souris Valley.
– 12,477 personal visits to federal / state disaster recovery centers in six communities in the Souris Valley.