Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today assured Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad and Congressman Rick Berg that the agency plans to approve the state's request for a six-month extension of the temporary housing program provided to Minot-area residents displaced by last year's flooding.
In a conference call with the delegation today, Administrator Fugate also said FEMA is working with the state to develop a policy enabling residents to purchase temporary FEMA units for permanent, long-term use at reduced prices or to have them donated to eligible non-profit entities. He said he wants those policies in place when the agency grants the housing extension so that residents will have time to plan for their long-term housing needs.
"The sooner all of this can be clarified the better," the delegation said in a joint statement. "Our goals remain the same: To ensure the city of Minot and the entire region get all the federal support available and that city and state officials have the flexibility to use federal resources to help people recover from last year's terrible flooding.
In a conference call with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate two weeks ago, the delegation had called on the agency to reevaluate some public infrastructure projects in Minot that had previously been denied federal support based on new data collected by Houston Engineering, an engineering and consulting firm, on the new 100 year river flow level.
The delegation noted that buyouts are a priority for the city, but many of the homes are outside the current 100-year river flow level. As a result, they do not meet the benefit cost necessary to be funded through Hazard Mitigation. Fugate today said he expects the 100-year flow to go up, but they need the new hydrological data to complete their evaluation.
The delegation has repeatedly pressed several Administration officials -- including those at FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House - to allow for maximum flexibility when utilizing Hazard Mitigation funds for recovery projects in Minot.
To date more than $540 million in federal support has been secured to aid the people of Minot.
A progress update with Administrator Fugate is scheduled for after Labor Day.