The FMWF Chamber of Commerce believes sandbagging is not the solution

Written by: FMWF Chamber of Commerce

There has been a great deal of discussion—both private and public—regarding the recent decision by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deny a permit for a dam on the Red River—a dam designed to be a major component of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project.

This decision not only flies in the face of facts gathered by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers over an eight-year time period, but it is also contrary to the DNR’s own Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the Diversion.

The best response to the DNR’s decision to deny the dam permit can be found in the United States Army Corps of Engineers news release, issued shortly after the ruling was announced.

“Sandbagging should not be viewed as a long-term solution for any community and certainly not for the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area, where the Red River of the North has exceeded flood stage in 51 of the past 113 years,” says Col. Sam Calkins, St. Paul District commander. “The potential loss of life and economic devastation that would result from a failure of emergency measures are not acceptable risks.”

Yes, the Minnesota DNR’s answer to devastating floods that affect both sides of the Red River of the North is sandbags. A majority of us remember the economic and emotional toll that sandbagging and Craig Whitney is the president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. other defensive methods took in the years in which we had major flooding, particularly the near catastrophe of 2009. And for those who were not here during those dif cult times, there are plenty of images and stories available from that time. I’m sure it would take no time at all for someone to find a flood victim with a frightening story to share.

The good news is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dedicated to moving forward and getting the project done and will shortly award its first construction contract. The Corps believes—and our business community agrees—that in all the years working with the parties affected, including in great detail with the Minnesota DNR, the Army Corps has chosen the right project that will guarantee that a major flood event in our region will be as manageable as it now is for our neighbors downriver in Grand Forks and Winnipeg—two communities in which it took major disasters to get the protection they need.

I would hate to think that we need the evacuation of 90 percent of our population, water owing in the streets and buildings on re in our downtown to get things done. We have the right project to ensure that this never happens, and we are on the verge of the right funding. In last month’s column, I discussed a fair funding method to getting this done. With no new taxes, we can make the difference needed to pay for the FM Diversion and in one of the fairest ways possible.

By extending sales taxes for both the City of Fargo and Cass County, we not only include those who will bene t from the Diversion today but future generations who will bene t most from it down the line. In addition, the sales taxes will stay at the current levels they are today, allowing us to avoid costly flood insurance increases and eliminate the need for flood- related property taxes and special assessments. And if the project is paid for before 2084, the taxes will expire.

Permanent flood protection is so important that I want to close this month with the same call to action as last month. Vote “yes” on both Cass County Measure 1 and City of Fargo Measure 1.

President and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Craig Whitney

For more information on the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce
202 1st Ave. N, Moorhead

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The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce is a bi-state, regional federation of over 2,100 private, public and non-profit member firms representing more than 109,000 people. The largest local chamber in North Dakota and Minnesota, The Chamber advocates for a strong metropolitan community and supports the interests of its members, which are located in Cass and Clay Counties and beyond.