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Atkins: Regional Flood Planning Starts Early

In a guest column, District 39B Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL) writes about the flood preparations the region and state are undertaking.

Atkins: Regional Flood Planning Starts Early

Editor's Note: District 39B Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL) recently attended a flood preparedness meeting in South St. Paul with Gov. Mark Dayton.

As the partisan meltdown paralyzes our neighbors in Wisconsin, folks in the state and local governments on this side of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers are working together to plan for expected statewide flooding this spring. 

Governor Dayton recently led a meeting at Waterous Company in South St. Paul to discuss spring flooding preparations. Waterous sits at an elevation of 701 feet, as do many of the businesses in South St. Paul and many of the residents and businesses of Inver Grove Heights. The dike next to Waterous, which holds back the Mississippi when the river floods, is at 710 feet. It is anticipated that spring flooding could well rise above the dike, not just locally, but across Minnesota, due to a wet fall last year and nearly record snowfall this winter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that there is even a 15 percent chance that flooding will eclipse the record set in 1965.

Bearing all this in mind, state and local officials have kicked off by far the earliest planning that has ever occurred for spring flooding. Since the so-called "100-year flood" seems to occur here about every 12 years, it makes sense to start preparing early.

I was impressed with the detailed planning that has already occurred, led by the Minnesota National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, Minnesota's Homeland Security Office, local emergency personnel and a bipartisan group of officials at the local, state and federal level. It is amazing how Minnesotans come together in times of crisis. Even the Department of Commerce, which helps with flood insurance claims, is already geared up and ready to help. If you have questions or need help with flood insurance, visit www.insurance.mn.gov or www.floodsmart.gov. You can also call (651) 296-2488. Remember, there is typically a 30-day waiting period before purchased flood insurance goes into effect, so buy now to protect yourself from spring flooding.

I’m very pleased that so far in this process we have been able to work together, across partisan and ideological lines. Preventing the worst of the flooding and minimizing any damage keeps families safe. It also protects families, businesses, and government from millions of dollars in property damage.

Crucial issues like flood preparation and mitigation should be free of partisanship. They should demonstrate how we can come together in times of crisis. My hope is that the exemplary display of camaraderie in dealing with the looming flood can provide a model for us as we tackle the state’s record budget deficit. We do our best work when sit down and work together, not when we walk away.

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