North Dakota Officials Offer Advice to Flooded Iowa Counterparts

June 17, 2008

Officials in Grand Forks are reaching out to their counterparts in flooded Iowa, offering advice learned from the devastating 1997 Red River flood that swamped their city.

“Every disaster is unique, every recovery is unique,” Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown said. “But there are common lessons to be learned.”

The images from Iowa of people abandoning their homes and battling extreme floodwaters have hit home for Grand Forks residents who went through the same thing. “Our heart goes out to them,” Brown said.

The city has put together a 21-page recovery briefing packet for officials in Cedar Rapids.

“It is our turn to give back that hope, but with a manual in hand,” Brown said.

In addition, Grand Forks City Attorney Howard Swanson has talked with Cedar Rapids officials about what to expect when it comes to property issues and buyouts. Brown said he also expects some Grand Forks officials and residents to travel to Iowa, similar to the area’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“That’s the character of this community, we have wanted to give back,” Brown said, referring to the outpouring of aid Grand Forks received 11 years ago.

Ironically, the Iowa flooding comes at a time when Grand Forks is offering advice to another disaster-ravaged city. Officials from St. Bernard Parish, La., which was devastated by Katrina, traveled to Grand Forks for several days to study recovery issues.

“It’s very satisfying to give back,” Brown said, adding that his advice to people in Iowa is to stay optimistic.

“It seems hopeless, but it’s not,” he said.

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