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Letter: Governor's task force must consider impact of the changing floodplain

I want to commend Gov. Mark Dayton and Gov. Doug Burgum for coming together to form a task force to resolve the ongoing debate over the F-M Diversion. The flood risk our community faces each spring is real and protection from these events is vital.

As a lifelong Moorhead resident and Realtor for the last 29 years, I urge the Governors to make the ongoing economic impact of costly FEMA flood insurance premiums a priority. These flood insurance premiums could affect 12,000 existing homes and homeowners in Fargo-Moorhead. I often hear this argument dismissed, or people claim that these homes are owned by the wealthy on the southern edges of town or along the river. This could not be further from the truth.

According to city engineers, these 1,000 homes in Moorhead and 11,000 in Fargo are scattered across the entire metro area and are not million-dollar homes. According to tax valuations of these homes, more than half are valued less than $200,000. A new flood insurance policy for these homes would be several thousand dollars a year. This will create an affordable housing catastrophe that would ripple across the metro area and both states. I have heard estimates that, in total across the metro area, the insurance requirements could amount to $30-50 million in annual premiums. In my opinion, it is better to spend this money providing for permanent flood protection than to send this money out our community in the form of insurance premiums. FEMA recognizes that the floodplain in Fargo-Moorhead is changing. You can attribute it to better hydrological models, modern agricultural drainage, development, a changing climate, or any other reason, but we know the situation is not getting better on its own. We need to not settle for the bare minimum protection level. We need to be prepared for the future and not leave the next generation of homeowners on the hook when the floodplain changes. As leaders in Minnesota and North Dakota meet to find resolution, please press forward and remember the importance of having the ability to provide protection to a FEMA 100-year certified level now, and as the floodplain changes in the future.

Krabbenhoft lives in Moorhead.

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