Homeowners whose flooded houses won't be salvageable may get demolition help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Maj. Gen. Murray Sagsveen, state flood recovery coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday that a FEMA team is coming to determine whether federal assistance will be available to remove structures on private lands that don't meet standards for public health and safety.
"This review team is very important because if they determine that certain structures can be removed from private land with federal assistance, that will mean that there is a federal share and a non-federal share, and the impact to property owners will be much relieved," he said.
That non-federal share will be 25 percent of the cost, which property owners may have to pick up, at least in part, he said.
Sagsveen said he is working with the City of Minot, Ward County, First District Health Unit, FEMA, the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Bank of North Dakota, Banking and Credit Union Association and Attorney General to determine the steps for removal of buildings and the financial implications to homeowners.
"We will be working closely on that and providing information to the homeowners and property owners absolutely as soon as possible," he said.
The city has hired additional inspectors who will be evaluating flooded structures to determine whether they are salvageable from a structural standpoint. They also can help residents determine whether their properties are financially worth saving. The tipping point often is whether damage exceeds 50 percent of the home's assessed value. Residents who want their homes inspected before starting any work can contact the city to schedule an inspection.
"If there's an inspection that reveals that a building, a structure, may have to be removed, that notice will go to the property owner and it starts a very detailed process that involves the homeowner from the very beginning," Sagsveen said. "So there isn't a situation where someone goes out and tags a building and then it's torn down, because there are due process requirements."
FEMA inspectors also will examine homes to determine the extent of assistance to homeowners but will not conclude whether a house must be demolished.
Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the city hopes to arrive at a decision in the next few weeks about possible areas for greenways or dike expansion to help homeowners in their future planning. The process of developing a full plan, though, could take two to three months, he said. The city is working with consultants from federal agencies to gather information needed to develop that plan.
FEMA has reported 4,100 structures have been flooded, with 2,376 structures experiencing extensive damage with more than six feet of water and 805 structures completely damaged with 10 feet or more of water.
Other information provided by FEMA stated that the figures were obtained from surveys of water depth by the U.S. Geological Survey in combination with a model developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Houston Engineering. These estimates were fine-tuned using high-resolution Pictometry and data from the city assessor's office that provided better information on occupancy type. The Geological Survey's GPS surveys are accurate to within a tenth of a foot in measuring water depth. However, the surveys do not measure water in basements or crawl spaces.
Property owners in Burlington and Minot can get the survey information on their properties by visiting with FEMA representatives at the Disaster Recovery Centers. FEMA is researching to determine if the map can be publicly released. If so, the city would be able to post it on its Web site.
Willie Nunn, federal coordinating officer with FEMA, said after registering with FEMA, homeowners should contact the agency again once they get into their homes to have an assessment done. Although the average FEMA individual assistance payment is about $8,000, Nunn said he expects the average to be higher in Minot because of the extent of the damages. More people may be getting the maximum of $30,200 than is typical in a disaster, he said.
He added that homeowners with space to put temporary housing on their properties may be able to get that housing by the end of July. FEMA housing to be located at other sites should be available in late August or early September.
Nunn said FEMA is looking at bringing in 200 to 300 temporary homes, although that number could increase as people's situations are assessed. He said FEMA will attempt to obtain the housing units locally and also has a stock on the East Coast that it can bring in. All units will be suited to North Dakota's cold winters.
One area that has been identified for temporary housing is on 55th Street Southeast at Second Avenue. Other potential areas continued to be evaluated.