FEMA flood rule challenged

Levee constructoin.jpg

MPR photo Dan Gunderson

For years, local officials have scratched their heads over a Federal Emergency Management Agency rule that prohibits building a permanent flood dike on property where FEMA money is spent to buy a flood-prone home.

Republican U.S. Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota wants to change that.

The rule means that if a city buys a home and demolishes it, a temporary levee would need to be built on that empty lot every time there’s a flood. The temporary levee must be removed after the flood. That means the federal government or the city pays for the same levee over and over instead of once.

I asked FEMA Director about the issue last year when he visited Moorhead during the flood. He said the rules were set by Congress. The idea was that if federal dollars are spent to remove property from a flood plain, no one should be allowed to build on that lot again. But the rule also precludes building permanent levees on the the property.

Hoeven said because FEMA can’t change the rule through administrative processes, he’ll introduce legislation to give FEMA authority to change the rule.

For a comprehensive and timely look at flood-related news from Minnesota and around the region, visit the MPR News flood blog Minnesota Floods ’11.