Recent Press Releases

Thune-Johnson Flood Insurance Amendment Protects Homeowners and Businesses

Provision Would Help Expedite Completion of Flood Control Measures in Sioux Falls

May 13, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  Senators John Thune and Tim Johnson today commented on the Senate passage of the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act, which included their amendment to reduce the potential impact of FEMA's revised flood map for Sioux Falls residents. The amendment would allow the city to be reimbursed for advance funding the federal government's remaining portion of costs associated with the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek Flood Control Project. When completed, this project will reduce the need for many homeowners and businesses to purchase federal flood insurance under FEMA's proposed revision to the city's 100 year floodplain.

"Without the protection of additional flood control measures, 1,600 homes and businesses will be required to purchase federal flood insurance," said Thune. "I met with Mayor Munson and other city officials a few weeks ago and proposed this innovative solution to help complete this important project. This amendment would expedite completion of the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek Flood Control Project and benefit the city of Sioux Falls by better protecting home and business owners from flood risk."

"When I met with Mayor Munson last month, I promised we would continue to press for solutions that recognize the federal commitment to flood protection. Completing the Big Sioux Falls Control Project is an important public safety for the citizens of Sioux Falls. The federal government has an obligation to provide funding for this project. If the city of Sioux Falls takes the initiative to keep the project on track, they should not be penalized for their investment. This amendment makes sure the federal government pays its share of the tab," said Johnson.

The Big Sioux Flood Control Project calls for the construction of a dam above the confluence of the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek, as well as elevating the levees along the banks of the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek, and raising the 41st Street bridge. These improvements will ensure that the necessary flood protection for homes and businesses are in place to prevent the estimated $750 million in property damage that would result from a major flood event.

Background: Roughly 20 years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the original flood control protections in Sioux Falls were ineffective as a result of two significant flood events in 1957 and 1969. In 1996, Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the city's flood protection along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek. Since 2000, Congress has appropriated over $15 million towards the project but there is still $21 million in additional federal funding that is needed before the project is complete.

As a result of a FEMA proposed revision to the City's 100-year floodplain, there is heightened urgency to complete this flood control project. However, at the current rate of federal funding which has averaged roughly $2 million per year, it would take roughly 10-years to provide funding to complete this important project and would require homeowners and businesses to purchase federal flood insurance in the meantime.

Senators Thune and Johnson successfully incorporated their amendment to the Flood Insurance Reform bill to allow the City to be repaid by the federal government should it decide to advance fund the federal government's remaining cost of the project. Without this repayment authority, the City would be unable to move forward with construction of the project with some assurance about being repaid in the future.

With today's passage of the Flood Insurance Reform Act, this measure must now be reconciled with the House-passed measure before it can be sent to the President for his consideration.