Diversion Project Will Protect FM Homeowners Against Higher Flood Insurance Rates

Realtor Kevin Fisher is worried about what he’s seeing in the local housing industry. However, once the FM Area Diversion Project is built, most, if not all, of his flood-related concerns will disappear.

His concerns stem, in part, from news that in five years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will return to the FM area to remap the 100-year floodplain. Without a diversion project, almost 20,000 residences could be added to the floodplain, requiring costly flood insurance mandates. Approximately 800 of these homes are located in Moorhead, MN.

“As a home owner who lives on the south side, and as a real estate agent who represents a lot of people who live on the south side, I’m concerned about the impact that will have on home ownership. I’ve had some people who would not write an offer on a house because it was considered in the flood plain,” said Fisher.

“There are so many unknowns. One lender could say you’re okay. The next lender could say, ‘No, you need flood insurance,’” Fisher added. “It’s so hard, without definite things, to do anything.”

Right now, the Flood Diversion Board of Authority is waiting for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to finish its review of the Diversion Project. The DNR’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is scheduled for release in late August.

In the meantime, representatives of the Diversion Authority, DNR, and the Corps of Engineers are maintaining contact and cooperating in an effort to complete the report as soon as possible.

Also, the Diversion Authority and the Corps have been in close communication with FEMA in regards to the Diversion Project. FEMA specified that due to all the technical work that has been done on the federally authorized Diversion Project, the floodplain could be changed for the positive in as little as three to nine months after construction is completed.

In April, U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) invited FEMA officials to Fargo to discuss the remapping and to make sure all parties are coordinating between hazard mitigation and the flood protection that is being built. Other attendees at the meeting included U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, Diversion Authority Chairman Darrell Vanyo, Oxbow Mayor Jim Nyhof, Cass County Commissioner Chad Peterson, staff from U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s (D-ND) office, Matt Cowles from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and other local officials.

Mahoney, who has been actively engaged in meetings in Bismarck and in Washington, says that the goal is to start construction on the Diversion Project in 2016.

To view video of the entire meeting with FEMA, click here.

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