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Grafton removed from 100-year floodplain after diversion project

On Jan. 19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency finalized its revised flood hazard determination for Grafton, which removed the city from the 100-year floodplain.

Grafton (N.D.) Mayor Chris West surveys the early flow of the Park River in this file photo from 2019.
Grafton (N.D.) Mayor Chris West surveys the early flow of the Park River in this file photo from 2019.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAFTON, N.D. – The Grafton Flood Risk Reduction Project, a project to divert the Park River and stop overland flooding, has officially removed Grafton from the 100-year floodplain.

On Jan. 19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency finalized its revised flood hazard determination for Grafton, which removed the city from the 100-year floodplain.

The Flood Risk Reduction Project, which faced its first round of high water in last year , was completed by KLJ Engineering and cost a total of $48 million, paid for with a combination of local and state funding. It includes a 3.2 mile diversion channel that reroutes water from the Park River around Grafton when the river is high and more than 12 miles of tieback levees to protect the community from overland flooding.

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The need for the project dates back to 2016, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency designated the east side of Newfolden as lying within the 100-year floodplain

While many towns in the region were fighting rising rivers after heavy rains in April and May, Grafton was not. In May, Mayor Chris West estimated that not having to fight the flood saved the city more than $1 million.

Now, for many residents and businesses, Grafton no longer being a part of the floodplain will mean less money spent on flood insurance, says West. In the past, he said, flood insurance has cost people in Grafton a collective $1 million each year.

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“At this point, FEMA has signed off on everything — the 19th was the date we got finalization on all of that,” said West. “The process for our citizens is a little bit different.”

Homes and businesses in high-risk flood areas with government-backed mortgages are required to have flood insurance. In Grafton, residents are now responsible for coordinating flood insurance cancellations with their lenders and insurance agents

“If they have flood insurance on their house and wish to no longer have the flood insurance part of it, they have to call their lenders to get a release letter from them, to get a letter back to their agents so that it can be canceled,” said West. “So it’s a little bit of a process that way.”

Another change that comes with being removed from the floodplain is a discontinuation of National Weather Service river forecast services for Grafton. On Jan. 10, the weather service in Grand Forks announced it will be discontinuing river forecasting for its gauge in Grafton on the Park River because the city has permanent flood protection. Effective Feb. 9, the weather service will no longer provide flood stage forecasts, flood warnings or watches and hydrologic statements for its Grafton gauge.

The U.S. Geological Survey will continue to provide stage readings in Grafton, and historical crest information will remain on the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service website, the weather service said.

The city of Grafton is hosting an informational meeting on Jan. 26 for residents and lenders with questions about flood insurance. The meeting will be hosted at the Grafton Armory from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Related Topics: GRAFTONFLOODING
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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