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DNR PR: Mitigation Projects Pay Off in Flash Floods

November 1, 2010

Press Release

Flood mitigation projects prevent damages during fall flooding in southern Minnesota

(Released November 1, 2010)

Flood mitigation efforts by several cities greatly reduced property damage caused by the record rainfalls that fell throughout southern Minnesota this fall, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The agency worked in partnership with the cities.

Studies have shown that mitigation is extremely cost effective,” said Pat Lynch, DNR Flood Hazard Mitigation Grant Program administrator. “For every dollar spent on mitigation, four dollars in future damages are prevented.”

Mankato, Henderson, Chaska and Rochester were among the cities that benefitted from having flood control projects in place. Henderson experienced its highest flood stage of record yet, but essentially had no flood damage.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, mitigation projects in these four communities collectively prevented more than $330 million in flood damages through 2009. That figure is certain to rise after the fall flooding is calculated into its 2010 report.

In Owatonna, seven homes and a business were acquired recently and removed from the floodplain. These structures would have incurred significant damage during the fall flooding.

“The families and business that were removed from the floodplain are so grateful for being safe from the flood waters,” explained Troy Klecker, AICP, Owatonna city planner. “The mitigation projects proved to be very successful and the city plans to partner with FEMA and the state again to remove additional flood-prone structures from the floodplain.”

In Austin, the fall flood was the sixth highest on record.

“This flood happening on a Friday and the majority of the community was back to business as normal by Monday morning,” explained Jon Erichson, Austin public works director.

That’s because Austin and the state had invested about $10 million ($5 million local/$5 million state) in the last six years on mitigation projects designed to prevent damage to homes, businesses, and public infrastructure.

During the fall flooding alone, Austin officials estimate their mitigation efforts prevented about $7.3 million in damages. In fact, the Hormel packing plant did not have to shut down during this flood as they have had to in past floods, which would have cost them $460,000 a day.

Since 1988, the DNR Flood Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has provided technical and financial assistance to local units of government throughout the state to significantly reduce the risk and cost of flood damage. In addition to a number of structural works, more than 2,200 homes and businesses have been removed from the floodplain under the cost-share program, allowing additional flood-flow capacity to the floodplain.

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