Burgum asks for disaster declaration due to October heavy rain, snowstorm

State News

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum today requested a presidential “major disaster” declaration for 15 counties affected by October rains and an early snowstorm.

Preliminary state estimates are that the two weather systems caused up to $9.7 million in damage to public infrastructure.

In a letter directed to President Donald Trump through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Burgum requested that the President declare a major disaster for the period of Oct. 9-26 for Barnes, Foster, Griggs, Grand Forks, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, Mountrail, Nelson, Sargent, Sheridan, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells counties.

“Local governments incurred significant costs as a result of the early October rain and snowstorm, and we appreciate the Trump administration considering our request,” Burgum said. “We’re also grateful for the emergency managers and many other officials who worked diligently with our Department of Emergency Services to compile data and make the case for federal assistance to help local jurisdictions recover from these unprecedented wet conditions.”

If granted, a presidential declaration would unlock FEMA public assistance to help cities, counties and townships pay for the costs of repairing roads and other infrastructure damaged by the storm and subsequent flooding.

North Dakota experienced a trio of weather extremes this year, from spring flooding to a severe summer drought to the wettest August-to-October period in 125 years of recordkeeping.

“The cost of three disasters this year adds to the financial burden of jurisdictions that have depleted their road and emergency fund budgets,” Burgum stated in the letter. “Local public works and contractor crews have been struggling to keep up with repairs after sites that had been fixed this spring were once again inundated by fall flooding.”

In addition to public assistance, Burgum also is asking that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be implemented on a statewide basis to help communities pay for flood mitigation projects that increase resiliency and reduce costs in the long run.

President Trump and FEMA granted Burgum’s request for a presidential disaster declaration in June in response to spring flooding in 19 North Dakota counties.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also approved a request for a secretarial disaster designation for 47 of North Dakota’s 53 counties, triggering the federal Emergency Farm Loan Program and Economic Injury Loan Program for farm-related business. 

You can view a copy of Burgum’s letter and supplemental materials here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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