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Posted on November 19, 2021 at 10:52 AM by Derek Hackett
One of the Council’s most important duties is crafting a vision for the future of our community. This year, Council members have made a concerted effort to not just talk about a vision, but begin the process of creating tangible and real-world applications for that vision.
Posted on November 5, 2021 at 10:04 AM by Bryan Obenchain
One of the lasting effects of the Souris River flood of 2011 is the potential of costly flood insurance premiums for residents living in the floodplain. A recent decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency should give those residents another three years before any significant insurance rate changes will become effective.
That’s obviously welcome news for members of our community. The longer we can delay flood insurance premium increases the better. In addition, the extended time before new flood maps become effective allows more work to be completed on the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection project, which should help slow any increases in insurance premiums in the future. FEMA’s decision to review its own findings is proof that an appeal submitted by the City was well-founded and warranted.
Even though any new maps won’t become effective for as long as three years, City Engineer Lance Meyer, who is also the City’s floodplain manager, still recommends that residents discuss with their insurance agent whether or not they should carry some form of flood insurance.
A little background on how we got to this point. Following the 2011 flood, FEMA informed the City that it would be creating new floodplain maps, which would affect how many properties would be included in the revised regulatory floodplain, and consequently, how many residents would need to purchase flood insurance if they have a federally backed mortgage. The City received updated preliminary maps in June 2017, and in December 2019, FEMA released maps scheduled to become effective in the fall of 2020. That’s when the City submitted an appeal that identified deficiencies with FEMA’s findings.
In the appeal, we argued that FEMA’s findings did not consider the full storage capacity purchased by the United States in Rafferty and Grant Devine reservoirs in Canada, and therefore arbitrarily limited the amount of flood storage available in Lake Darling. Because of that, the City argued, FEMA overestimated the flood discharge used to determine the regulatory floodplain.
Meyer pointed out at the Nov. 1 City Council meeting that FEMA hasn’t officially denied or accepted our appeal, but essentially said that it would incorporate our data into new flood maps.
“So effectively, what that means is FEMA is starting this process over, revising these maps – the hydraulics and hydrology that goes into them – and will submit draft maps back to us, probably sometime in the summer of 2023,” Meyer explained to Council members.
The City will have the option to appeal the new draft maps, but even without further appeal, the earliest the maps would become effective is the fall of 2024.
In the meantime, construction and planning continues on additional phases of the flood protection project. The first three phases are essentially complete. Property acquisition and structure removal continues on Railway Avenue as design work is under way on Phase 5 of the project, and we’re working with state and federal partners to find funding for the Maple Diversion, which is Phase 4.
Minot is also working to reduce insurance premiums for residents, recently earning a Class 6 rating with the Community Rating System. That means residents who are required to have flood insurance will receive a 20 percent discount on the premiums, beginning April 1, 2022. Any new policies on or after April 1, 2022, are eligible for the Class 6 discount; existing policies on that date will see the change when the policy is renewed. Under the CRS, communities earn points for accomplishing various activities, such as public outreach, floodplain property acquisitions, and preserving open space in a floodplain. The points translate to a classification, which can lead to discounts on flood insurance premiums.
The City and its partners continue to search for ways to shorten the timeline to complete the flood protection project. To do that, we need additional financial support from the State of North Dakota and the federal government. We must work to access every dollar of available funding to complete this project as efficiently as possible. Every year we cut off the overall construction timeline will save money in construction costs and interest on loan payments. The completion of this project is vital to the future protection of our community and the financial and emotional well-being of our residents.
We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received up to this point. Our partnerships with the Souris River Joint Board, the State Water Commission, and our elected leaders at the local, state, and federal levels have been instrumental in completing the initial phases of the largest infrastructure project in Minot’s history. But there is much work to be done, and we cannot relax until the project is complete.
Sincerely, City Hall
You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.
Posted on October 21, 2021 at 9:56 AM by Bryan Obenchain
Minot has long been a community known for taking care of its own residents in times of need. Volunteering creates ties within the community that make our city a better place.
Volunteer efforts don’t have to be a grand gesture. Often the smallest contributions can make the biggest difference in someone else’s life. Every community offers a number of options – large and small - for residents to get involved. Minot is no different.
The Norsk Hostfest has been a great example for decades of what can be accomplished through the power of volunteers. What started as a small celebration of Scandinavian heritage grew into one of the largest such events in North America, drawing thousands of visitors annually from across the United States and the world. But the Hostfest would be impossible to hold without hundreds of volunteers committing thousands of volunteer hours each year. The Hostfest hasn’t been held the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but when the event restarts, an army of volunteers will no doubt again be the lifeblood of the event. We’re looking forward to that day.
When you attend the North Dakota State Fair, there are endless examples of volunteerism that help make the event successful every year. There are several food booths staffed by volunteers, whether they’re from churches or youth groups, and volunteers help organizations like the FFA and others.
There are smaller events that happen every week in Minot, of course, but many of them are also successful because members of the community take time to participate.
The Pumpkin Walk at Woodland Trail happened over two days last weekend, and thousands of visitors walked the trail to marvel at the 850 pumpkins that were carved and donated by community members and businesses. The Minot Park District put out requests for pumpkin donations, and the community responded. It was a great free, family-friendly event, thanks to the amazing community involvement.
Service clubs and the volunteer efforts of their members play a major role in our community. Who hasn’t been to the annual Kiwanis pancake breakfast or driven through Oak Park to witness the dazzling light displays that are part of the Sertoma Club’s annual Christmas in the Park event? The Minot Rotary Club raises money through a variety of events each year, and awards scholarships to high school seniors in the Minot area annually. All our service clubs are dedicated to their community, and continue to give back through volunteer efforts and the thousands of dollars they donate every year to local projects and students. Their contributions to making Minot a better community are invaluable.
Community ties and relationships are strengthened through volunteering. Businesses that encourage and support employees who volunteer should be commended because that collaborative effort benefits the employee, the business, and those organizations that are in need of assistance.
There are endless opportunities to volunteer in our community. You can find many opportunities through the Souris Valley United Way, including programs like Backpack Buddies that provides food to children in need every week during the school year. The Men’s Winter Refuge provides a safe place for men in need during the coldest months in area, and can always use more help. The Minot Area Homeless Coalition provides an array of services to combat homelessness in our area. The Minot Commission on Aging includes many services to senior citizens in our community, including Meals on Wheels that provides food and a wellness check to residents who may be homebound. There are many, many more organizations that would welcome your help.
Get involved. Reach out to any of these organizations and ask your family, friends, or co-workers to join you. I promise you there is an organization out there that will welcome your time and talents. The experience will enhance your life and make the Magic City and even greater place to live, work, and play.