Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson Fight to Prevent Breckenridge Residents from Having to Purchase Unnecessary Flood Insurance

April 24, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN) along with Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) are fighting to prevent Breckenridge families from having to purchase unnecessary flood insurance. In a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota lawmakers urged FEMA to delay moving forward with the final Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Wilkin County until it incorporates the flood protection that is in place for Breckenridge. FEMA plans to release maps in May that show which areas in Wilkin County are at an increased risk of flooding and will be required to have flood insurance, but the maps currently do not take into account the flood protection project in Breckenridge, so residents already protected by the project would have to buy flood insurance they do not need.

“By failing to account for Breckenridge’s flood protection project, FEMA will create an unnecessary burden for residents,” Klobuchar said. “That is why I am urging FEMA to only move forward with flood maps that include the flood protections already in place, and I will continue pushing to ensure families in Breckenridge are not harmed by additional bureaucratic red tape.”

“It just doesn’t make any sense for FEMA to finish their flood maps for Breckenridge without taking into account the flood protection project that the Army Corps of Engineers has essentially finished," said Sen. Franken. "Residents of Breckenridge shouldn’t have to pay for flood insurance that they don’t need, just because of a lack of communication between two federal agencies. FEMA needs to do the right thing here and delay finalizing these maps until they’re updated to reflect the reality in Breckenridge.” 

“The actual diversion channel was completed in 2005, is operational, and has prevented more than $130 million in damages in both Minnesota and North Dakota,” Peterson said. “While there are minor damage repairs still taking place, we all know that this project does protect homeowners and there is no reason for FEMA to implement flood insurance premiums on homeowners who don’t need it. We have repeatedly tried to reason with FEMA on this matter, but they can’t seem to find enough common sense to figure this out.”

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter is available below:

Dear Administrator Fugate and Assistant Secretary Darcy:

We write to express significant concerns regarding FEMA’s decision to move forward with mapping of Wilkin County, Minnesota that does not take into account the significant completion of the Breckenridge Flood Risk Management project, which already fully protects the city from flooding. We urge FEMA to delay moving forward with the final Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Wilkin County unless it incorporates the flood protection that is in place for the City of Breckenridge.

We share the frustration of local officials in Wilkin County who rightly point out that the maps would add communities into the floodplain that are currently protected from flooding. FEMA Regional staff indicated on an April 2 conference call with members of our staffs, the Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District (Corps), and the Mayor of Breckenridge that these maps will become effective on May 18, 2015.

By moving forward with outdated maps, FEMA will be forcing the majority of Breckenridge residents to pay for flood insurance they do not need. In turn, this will increase administrative burden as the federal government will ultimately end up reimbursing these residents for purchasing unnecessary insurance. 

We strongly urge FEMA to work directly with the Corps to determine a swift, yet reasonable, timeline for the completion of the FIRM for Wilkin County which fully recognizes the flood protection in place for the City of Breckenridge. Thank you for your consideration of this request and we look forward to working with you to resolve this important matter.