• Why we won’t back down about the Diversion

  • Why we won’t back down about the Diversion

    Why we won’t back down about the Diversion

    Let me start this message by reminding our members that we take our chamber’s role seriously when it comes to advocacy, public policy, and working in the best interest of the majority of our local businesses.

    We know there are a range of opinions regarding the FM Diversion. While we respect the differences in views, we also remain firm in our support of the Diversion as the best way to protect our community.

    We are blessed to live in a region filled with opportunity and quality of life. Our economic success and growth relies on our ability to position ourselves as a stable location. This is difficult and sometimes near impossible with the unpredictability of the usually peaceful Red River of the North.

    We know that the effects of a high flood can be devastating. However, a quick read of recent history tells the tale. One only needs to look back 10 years in our own community, or to Grand Forks 20 years ago, to see how imperative it is to control the waters so they don’t shut down our city, damage homes and close businesses. Our metro is now populated with thousands of young people in our workforce who didn’t experience that flood fight.

    In the past, being prepared has meant millions of sandbags, temporary levees, and evacuation plans. Fortunately, much has been accomplished in the past 10 years to protect us from another disastrous flood. However, despite what critics say about alternatives, it simply isn’t enough. In the rare cases of catastrophic flooding, diverting the Red River away from core businesses and residential areas has always been key to preserving the thriving economy and quality of life we continue to get praised for in study after study.

    Recent government funding decisions give us great hope. Thanks to Governor Burgum helping to break the logjam with the State of Minnesota, the Army Corps of Engineers’ enthusiasm for the resulting Plan B of the Diversion and Senator Hoeven’s backing, we believe the state is finally in a position to fund its portion of the money needed to protect such a critical economic engine.

    All reports show that this year is one to take seriously. Recent developments tell the story of how quickly things can change. The National Weather Service has switched their tone in regard to a possible flooding threat in our region from “nothing to worry about” to “get prepared” in a matter of weeks, saying that moderate to major flooding is now guaranteed. Not to mention Mayor Mahoney declaring a state of emergency.

    Our work will be tireless. Already we coordinated with both the cities of Fargo and Moorhead to arrange hundreds of volunteers at Sandbag Central. We hosted press conferences about the need for permanent protection and wrote letters to influence legislators to secure funding. And now, I ask and urge you to prioritize permanent flood protection for our region through the FM Diversion Project.

    It will take time, funding and much energy to see this project through, but we’re confident it will be more than worth it.

    (Editor's note: This was written in mid-March, and as of March 29, we are since relieved to hear new predictions from the NWS that lower the risk of this year's flood.)

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