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Now is the time to prepare for spring flooding

Guest Editorial: By North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, State Engineer Garland Erbele and Homeland Security Director Cody Schulz.

If you’ve lived in North Dakota for long, you’ve more than likely put the wise words “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” into practice.

Last year, we contended with spring flooding that damaged homes, public infrastructure, hundreds of roads and thousands of acres of farmland in western and south-central North Dakota and up and down the Red River Valley. On top of that, we had the most precipitation in 125 years of recordkeeping from August to October, triggering an unusual bout with flooding during the fall harvest season.

Heading into freeze-up this winter, soils were saturated and rivers were running high from central to eastern North Dakota. These conditions raise the specter of a potentially tumultuous spring flood season looming ahead. Time, however, is on our side, and we should start to prepare now.

One way to protect yourself and your family financially is to consider purchasing a flood insurance policy. We make this suggestion now because these policies typically take 30 days to go into effect.

Some other information to consider:

– Flood damage typically is not covered by a homeowners or renters insurance policy.

– Everyone is at risk of flooding. Where it can rain, it can flood.

– The National Flood Insurance Program is available in 332 participating North Dakota communities, including 46 counties.

– Just 1 inch of water can cause up to $25,000 in damage to a home.

– More than 40 percent of flood insurance claims in North Dakota come from areas outside of designated high-risk flood zones.

For more information about the National Flood Insurance Program and purchasing a flood insurance policy, visit floodsmart.gov or talk to your insurance agent today.

Our State Water Commission has now made it easier to determine your flood risk by creating the agency’s Risk Assessment MapService, or NDRAM. This online tool provides users with water surface elevations, flood depths and the ability to download engineering model data. Visit ndram.swc.nd.gov to access this flood data viewer.

Our state agencies are taking a whole-of-government approach to manage whatever flood impacts may come. Planning and collaboration for emergency response to spring floods began in earnest this past December. We have prepositioned equipment and personnel, ready to act whenever needed. Our North Dakota team also offers a host of flood preparation information through the NDResponse website at ndresponse.gov file:///Users/jessiewald/Desktop/ndresponse.gov. Learn how you as individuals, families and homeowners can prepare for potential flood events.

As North Dakotans, we’ve all dealt with challenging weather conditions, from winter storms to tornadoes to wildfires to floods. And, as with storms of years past, we will continue to show our resiliency by helping our neighbors and working together to build stronger, better prepared communities.

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