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N.D., FEMA say help available with latest flood buyout efforts

HILLSBORO, N.D. -- State and federal officials held a briefing here at the Traill County Courthouse Wednesday to discuss the Federal Emergency Management Agency's hazard mitigation grant program.

HILLSBORO, N.D. -- State and federal officials held a briefing here at the Traill County Courthouse Wednesday to discuss the Federal Emergency Management Agency's hazard mitigation grant program.

Traill County, like others along the Red River, is no stranger to flood buyout programs. More than two dozen homes in Mayville and eastern Traill County have been demolished or relocated since 1997.

FEMA's program helps local governments buy out flood-prone properties to reduce, or mitigate, future flood damage.

"It's an opportunity for you to mitigate future potential disasters," said Ray Morrell, a hazard mitigation specialist with the state Department of Emergency Services.

FEMA and state officials will conduct more briefings today, 9 to 11 a.m. at the Grand Forks County Office Building and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Devils Lake Armory.

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The federal government provides 75 percent of the buyout funding and the state contributes 10 percent. That leaves 15 percent to local sources, which usually means the property owner.

FEMA's grant program is available to state agencies; tribal governments; local governments; private colleges and universities, as well as tribal colleges; and non-profit groups. The deadline is Nov. 13.

Morrell said competition will be stiff for funding, not only in North Dakota but all over the nation, because of an unusual number of natural disasters that have occurred in the past year.

State experts will rank all applications, and forward them to FEMA, which will conduct its own ranking. The state's priorities are buyouts, followed by other flood mitigation and planning projects.

"Paint a picture," Morrell said, to describe the local disaster and what is needed to prevent it from happening again.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also has low-interest loans for homeowners, renters and businesses. The deadline to apply for physical property damage is Aug. 10. The deadline for economic injury -- loss of business because of natural disaster -- is Jan. 11.

As of Wednesday, FEMA has received 6,847 registrations for individual help in North Dakota, with $7.1 million approved, and 365 requests for public assistance, with $10.5 million approved. The deadline for individual assistance is Aug. 10.

The SBA has approved 344 low-interest loans for nearly $11.7 million.

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For more information, call FEMA at (800) 621-FEMA (3362); or register at www.disasterassistance.gov .

Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send e-mail to kbonham@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: TRAILL COUNTY
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