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20th Anniversary of Red River Flood Marked by Groundbreaking
Minnesota Ag Connection - 04/18/2017

Senator John Hoeven Monday joined local leaders in the metro area to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1997 flood in the Red River Valley. The ceremony included a groundbreaking for the construction of the inlet structure for Fargo-Moorhead's permanent flood protection. The Army Corps of Engineers awarded the first contract for construction of the flood protection in December, which Hoeven announced.

"Emergency measures are not enough to protect lives and property against the annual threat of flooding in the Red River Valley," Hoeven said. "We need comprehensive flood protection for the whole region to safeguard against the damage and loss like we saw in 1997. The groundbreaking in Fargo-Moorhead is another step in our larger effort to provide regional protection. Doing so will provide certainty for our communities while also demonstrating an innovative approach that will help us to build much-needed infrastructure across our nation in a more timely and cost-effective manner."

Meanwhile, Patrick Loree, pastor of Horace Lutheran Church, delivered the prayer for the flood diversion that dignitaries would soon break ground on in an empty field while protesters could be heard yelling from across Cass County Road 17.

"When I was asked to offer the invocation for today's activities, I found myself torn with mixed emotions," he told the crowd Monday. "My congregation has a great number of people who are very much for and very much against this project. And I love them all."

Loree called for God's blessing on those who will sacrifice their property for the dam being built, on those building that dam and on those who would benefit from it. He said his parents lost their Minot home to flooding in 2011, so he knows the need for flood protection.

"Where's your permit?" a protester cried, referring to the dam permit Minnesota regulators denied the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority and the subject of a federal lawsuit that could stop the region's most expensive project in its tracks.

The $2.2 billion diversion includes a 30-mile man-made river channel around Fargo-Moorhead, protecting thousands of homes, and a dam to control the flow of flood water, reducing the impact on downstream communities.

Hoeven has worked throughout his tenure in the U.S. Senate to advance comprehensive flood protection for North Dakota's communities. He wrote and secured language in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding bill that authorized the new construction start for Fargo-Moorhead, which the Army Corps subsequently included in its FY2016 work plan.

Hoeven also recently arranged a meeting with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney and Fargo-Moorhead leaders to secure funding for comprehensive flood protection for the Red River Valley in the Army Corps of Engineers FY2017 work plan, which OMB must approve, as well as the president's final FY2018 budget. The senator continues working as a member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Committee to ensure the Corps has the funding it needs to construct the flood protection.

The groundbreaking Monday was for an inlet structure south of Fargo-Moorhead that would release dammed water into the channel.

Unlike many groundbreaking ceremonies, it lacked a triumphant tone, Inforum.com reported.

In part it's because the event also commemorated the devastating Red River flood of 20 years ago that, together with the 2009 flood, was an impetus for the project. And in part it's because even project supporters recognize that while many would win, some would lose.

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