Washington, D. C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening to express her concern about the threat of major floods in North Dakota. She pledged that Congress would provide needed disaster assistance to North Dakota in the days and weeks ahead. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise to call attention to the serious challenges facing the people of North Dakota: the record crest of the Red River threatening the city of Fargo, the ice jam causing flooding on the Missouri River and forcing evacuations in Bismarck, and the flood and weather-related impacts in other parts of the state.
“As you know, our colleague, Congressman Earl Pomeroy, has gone home already to get back into making sandbags -- as he has done already this week.
“North Dakotans are no strangers to floods, Mr. Speaker. Grand Forks was devastated by the Red River's flood in 1997, forcing the entire city to rebuild.
“North Dakotans are no stranger either to the ideal of neighbors helping neighbors. Through the weekend and early parts of this week, thousands of people -- including high school and college students, National Guardsmen, women, and our own Congressman Earl Pomeroy, among many others -- have stood shoulder-to-shoulder, filling sandbags to protect Fargo and other cities from the dangers of rising waters. Others have come together to offer shelter to those forced to leave their homes.
“As of late last night, Fargo residents and out-of-town volunteers had filled over 1 million sandbags -- over 1 million sandbags -- and they aren't stopping. I salute the work of these Americans coming together in common purpose in this time of need. While there is and will be a significant federal role assisting those impacted, the work of the community is the first line of defense.
“Congressman Pomeroy has briefed me about the seriousness of this situation, and I have assured him that this Congress will be following the situation closely and are prepared to respond as required.
“President Obama has swiftly acted -- declaring North Dakota a federal disaster area. Congress will act with no less speed to ensure that the people of North Dakota have everything they need as the flood waters recede.
“I know the governor is working with Mr. Pomeroy -- they are working in a bipartisan way -- and I look forward to communicating with the governor to see how we can be helpful.
“The thoughts and prayers of this entire Congress and the American people are with the people of North Dakota and we will work with them to ensure they have all they need in the days and weeks ahead.”