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Minnesota officials to North Dakota: Understand flood projects unfinished in Minnesota

WASHINGTON D.C. - The message that Minnesota officials will deliver during today's two-state flood meeting is becoming clearer after this morning's gathering of Minnesota officials in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said North Dakota officials need to understand that Minnesota still has unfinished flood projects in Breckenridge, Roseau, Ada and other cities lingering from the 1997 flood.

"The message is we're happy to help Fargo," but Minnesota cities are also concerned about the impact of any Fargo flood protection project, Peterson said, noting he's received calls of concern from officials in Kragnes, Perley, Georgetown and other cities up and down the Red River Valley.

"We need to understand what effect that project they're looking at has on our side of the river," he said.

A study of potential flood protection projects in Fargo-Moorhead shouldn't hold up ongoing Minnesota projects, he said.

"We have to be looking at the whole valley, and we have to be working on projects at the same time," he said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar echoed Peterson's sentiments, saying the Minnesota group's mission "is to make very clear that there is a Minnesota side of this, and that we look at this as a whole, not just one town."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he's asked the Minnesota House and Senate to increase flood mitigation funds in the bonding bill to $50 million to take care of projects that are ready to proceed now.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., just walked in and said North Dakota officials want to cooperate, clasping his hands together and referring to "hands across the water."

"We're in this together, and so we need to move forward together," he said.

Fargo-Moorhead and other cities had a close call with flooding this year, he said.

"Let's seize the moment and get on track" with a plan that has near-term and long-term comprehensive flood protection, he said.