Minot res­i­dents balk at ‘Van­ish­ing’ re­port

Say town ex­pand­ing, not dis­ap­pear­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

For a burg that’s sup­pos­edly dis­ap­pear­ing as a re­sult of cli­mate change, the town of Minot, North Dakota, is ex­pand­ing rather briskly.

The city has seen its pop­u­la­tion in­crease by 21 per­cent since 2010, a factoid not in­cluded in last week’s Weather Chan­nel re­port, ti­tled “Van­ish­ing Amer­ica,” which sin­gled out Minot as an ex­am­ple of a com­mu­nity “on the verge of dis­ap­pear­ing due to global warm­ing or ex­treme weather.”

Left flab­ber­gasted were Minot res­i­dents like Jar­rod Brown, who said on Face­book, “What in the world?? I’ve only seen the town grow since 2011. This is some garbage.”

Oth­ers ac­cused the Weather Chan­nel of “sen­sa­tion­al­iz­ing” the story and pro­mot­ing “fake news.”

“[T]o say that the city is dis­ap­pear­ing is com­pletely in­ac­cu­rate,” Minot City Coun­cil mem­ber Shaun Sipma told WDAY AM.

The re­port cen­tered on the dev­as­tat­ing 2011 Souris River flood that flowed over lev­ees, dam­aged or de­stroyed 4,115 homes, and prompted the evac­u­a­tion of 11,000 res­i­dents.

“Parts of Minot are al­ready van­ish­ing, boarded up by the chang­ing oil in­dus­try and this new flood risk, a change in the weather form­ing a new fu­ture they did not ex­pect,” said the Weather Chan­nel’s Dave Malkoff dur­ing the seg­ment.

He pointed to Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency’s de­ci­sion to de­velop new in­sur­ance-rate maps for the Mouse River Basin in re­sponse to the 2011 flood.

“These are huge flood­ing events, and they’ve gone through one, but now FEMA is chang­ing the flood­ing maps so that it is no longer a low flood risk. It is one of the high­est flood risks in Amer­ica,” Mr. Malkoff said. “This is Minot, North Dakota, and if you travel there, you’ll see the rem­nants of what has hap­pened af­ter the flood. Peo­ple are mov­ing out.”

In­sur­ance rates also jumped af­ter the 1969 flood but were re­duced in the 1990s as a re­sult of changes in the river chan­nel and im­prove­ments to dams and reser­voirs, ac­cord­ing to FEMA.

The Weather Chan­nel de­fended its re­port in a state­ment: “The con­tent and story line were based on fac­tual in­for­ma­tion from FEMA, in-per­son in­ter­views with Minot com­mu­nity mem­bers and a study from Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment.”

But irked Minot res­i­dents said the ma­jor­ity of those dis­placed by the flood re­turned and re­built. Since 2010, the town’s pop­u­la­tion has boomed from 40,888 to an es­ti­mated 49,450 in 2015, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau.

Carolyn Moore, whose said her home was caught in the flood­ing, called the re­port “hog­wash.”

“There have been some home buy­outs for fu­ture flood pro­tec­tion, but those num­ber in the dozens, not hun­dreds,” she said on Face­book. “This is not some sit­u­a­tion cre­at­ing a ‘van­ish­ing city’ — in fact, it high­lighted what a strong peo­ple [those liv­ing in] the city of Minot are.”

Denizens of Minot, which has a his­tory of cat­a­strophic floods dat­ing as far back as 1881, also ar­gue that hu­man­caused fac­tors such as government dam mis­man­age­ment con­trib­uted to the June 2011 dis­as­ter, along with heavy win­ter snow­fall and spring rain.

Mr. Sipma and coun­cil mem­ber Mi­randa Schuler, both of whom ap­peared in the seg­ment, said they were un­der the im­pres­sion that the story’s fo­cus would be on the town’s re­silience in com­ing back from the floods, not cli­mate change.

Ms. Schuler said she “was ex­pect­ing some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent,” while Mr. Sipma said he was “dis­gusted.”

“It’s com­ing in and ask­ing one thing and do­ing an­other, and it’s not just me, I think it’s the en­tire city,” Mr. Sipma said. “I’m quite dis­gusted, to be hon­est.”

The Weather Chan­nel re­port, which first aired Wed­nes­day, was billed as the first of a mul­ti­part se­ries on how global warm­ing is cre­at­ing so-called cli­mate refugees.

“Peo­ple are mov­ing away try­ing to es­cape what is hap­pen­ing in their home­towns,” said a video pre­view.

That’s not what’s hap­pen­ing in Minot, said WDAY AM host Rob Port.

“There’s a lot of good sto­ries there,” said Mr. Port. “It seemed like what they wanted to fo­cus on was cli­mate change and this idea that cli­mate change is eras­ing Minot, which is just not some­thing


A Weather Chan­nel re­port last week, ti­tled “Van­ish­ing Amer­ica,” sin­gled out Minot, North Dakota, as an ex­am­ple of a com­mu­nity “on the verge of dis­ap­pear­ing due to global warm­ing or ex­treme weather,” How­ever, res­i­dents ar­gue the re­port is “fake news.”

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