Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 25, 2011

Public policy implications of personal pain

Filed under: Preparedness and Response — by Philip J. Palin on June 25, 2011

Above is the inundation and evacuation map for Minot, North Dakota. A more detailed PDF is available.  At least 2500 homes have already been flooded and up to 5000 homes are in harms way as the flood crests today.  Most are not covered by federal flood insurance.

The flooding of the Souris River raises many of the same policy and strategy questions we have engaged with other floods, the triple-header crisis in Japan, and the wildfires in the Southwest. Toward the top of the list:

  • What is the appropriate place of low frequency, high consequence events in planning, preparedness, and — especially — public engagement?
  • How and when does our desire to manage risk unintentionally increase our risk exposure?
  • What is the appropriate balance of public sector accountability, private sector accountability, and personal accountability in preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery?

These questions also apply to earthquake, nuclear terrorism, cyberterrorism, dam failure, a range of industrial accidents, and much more.

The flooding story is national headline news. Three sources for a more local angle:

Minot Daily News

Ward County, North Dakota Emergency Management information (Extensive resources)

City of Minot Facebook page

SUNDAY UPDATE: On Saturday rain  fell across the Souris watershed, but in lesser amounts than predicted.  It appears that the crest has been reached in Minot, several inches below worst case projections.  The crest is, nonetheless, substantially above the previous historic record and will be slow to recede.

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Pingback by The Need for Realism in Recovery Planning « Recovery Diva

June 26, 2011 @ 7:00 am

[…] blogger, Phil Palen, for pointing out this article. See his posting on the Minot flood in the Homeland Security Watch blog on June 25. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 26, 2011 @ 8:13 am

MINOLT is a classic example of how all repeat ALL levees fail either through exceedence of their flood design frequency intervals or failure due to poor maintenance.
What is never honestly addressed by those who advocate structural protection is the inherent uncertainty of the events designed to protect against. Human lives and even historic records usually don’t accurate capture enough data to accurately design or map without enormous expenditures and perhaps not even then.

MINOT has repeatedly cost the federal fisc way beyond its contributions. Time for hard decisions and change. It deserves NO federal taxpayer subsidy. The Dakotas already help distort federal policy by the fact that a small number of citizens have clout well beyond their numbers.

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » A “Carrington Event” — How Seriously Do We Take Low Probability, High Consquence Events?

June 26, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

[…] his many other skills, Phil is obviously also a gifted mentalist.  In his previous post he raises exactly the set of questions that occurred to me (perhaps not expressed in my own mind so […]

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 26, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

The devastation from Joplin is clear to see and here today we see on CNN and Fox News so much loss in property and more importantly, the loss of security and the heightened anxieties of families so terribly affected by such impact.

We must use our already depleted federal monies such as we use to support so many overseas, however we must budget our monies in a much more wisely manner and We should be helk those who have suffred so from the rising flood waters in those areas where such scenarios are truly possible such as in Minot, North Dakota as the Souris River crests shortly below estimates, yet still devastating families.

Hopefully government agencies will be on scene to assist residents so adversely affected by such flood waters.

Christoopher Tingus
Po Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA

Comment by Minot: "Hard Decisions and Change"

June 26, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

Many do concur with William Cumming that “hard decisions and change” should be on the immediate planning agenda for Minot officials and its residents! I reiterate, for the immediacy, FEMA and others must do whatever we can as a nation to help our fellow neighbors, yet community planning must address the issues at hand –

Christopher Tingus

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