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Homeland Security official plans aerial tour of Minot flood damage

BISMARCK -- U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano plans to visit Minot and surrounding areas on Wednesday for an aerial tour of flooding and to meet with local, state and federal officials, the governor's office announced late Friday.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said it's good news that Napolitano will see for herself the extent of flood damage along the Souris River, also known as the Mouse River.

"I'm anxious to show her just how significant the damages are and to discuss the impacts of other disasters in our state and how important it is for us to receive adequate assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency," he said in a statement.

More than 11,000 Minot residents evacuated from their homes last month to escape record-setting flooding that impacted 4,100 structures.

Dalrymple and the state's congressional delegation are encouraging Napolitano to expand her visit to include a tour of flooding in the Bismarck-Mandan area and in the Devils Lake Basin, a news release said.

Major flooding also has caused extensive damage to property along the Missouri River where about 900 residences have been evacuated, the release said. In the Devils Lake Basin, hundreds of structures are flooded and an estimated 30,000 additional acres of farmland have been swallowed up by the rising lake since this spring.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said they're grateful Napolitano accepted their invitation, and they will continue working with her to ensure resources and assistance are available to flood-impacted communities.

No report or photograph has the same impact as seeing the water first hand, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., agreed.

"As we continue to work together, it is important for Secretary Napolitano to see the devastation first hand, meet with local leaders on the ground, as well as taking the time to visit with those most affected," Berg said in a statement. "North Dakotans need to know that when the water recedes, we will be there to help, we will be there to clean, and we will be there to ensure a strong recovery."