Burgum, Goehring to visit flood-affected areas as damage being assessed for federal disaster requests

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Governor, Agriculture Commissioner will meet with officials in Fargo, Grand Forks and Jamestown, hold townhall meeting in Fessenden

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and other state officials will meet with local officials and community members on Monday, Oct. 21, in Fargo, Grand Forks and Jamestown and hold a townhall meeting in Fessenden to hear about the impacts of North Dakota’s unusually wet fall and last weekend’s record-breaking early snowstorm and to discuss the state’s response efforts.

Burgum and Goehring will visit with farmers and ranchers to get a better understanding of the impacts being felt during this harvest season and discuss measures North Dakota is taking to help ease the strain of those economic and emotional hardships, including likely requests for a USDA secretarial disaster designation and a presidential disaster declaration. Information on meeting times and locations is below.

In addition to farmland impacts, a large swath of the state is experiencing unprecedented fall flooding, both riverine and overland. Local emergency managers have reported impacts to rural roads, many softened by wet conditions and becoming more susceptible to washouts.

As of today, the following counties and cities have issued flood emergency declarations: the counties of Barnes, Cavalier, Grand Forks, LaMoure, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells and the cities of Grand Forks, Jamestown, LaMoure and Valley City.

In Jamestown, officials this week requested two sandbag machines from the State Emergency Operations Center to begin sandbag operations in preparation for high water releases from the Pipestem and Jamestown dams. The U.S. Corps of Engineers increased release volumes to evacuate flood storage there while also increasing releases from the Baldhill Dam as Lake Ashtabula’s levels rise, which could further affect areas throughout Barnes, Stutsman and LaMoure Counties. The State Water Commission has ceased operation of the Devils Lake outlets for the remainder of this year so as not to increase flows on the already high Sheyenne River. The current lake level is 1,448.5 feet.

Residents in Grand Forks have reported flooded basements, while floodwaters also are encroaching on sugar beet fields, rural homes and roadways.

The Red River and its tributaries have also risen to high levels this fall. Currently, the river is within 1 foot of moderate flood stage in Fargo and 1 foot above major flood stage in Oslo, Minn., further north. While conditions are not parallel to those of this spring, there still is significant flood risks in rural areas.

This week, Goehring encouraged agricultural producers to contact NDSU Extension agents to report incurred damages and losses. Those reports will be used to provide information to the governor to assist in consideration for a USDA secretarial disaster designation. This mechanism opens up access to financial assistance through WHIP+ (Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Plus Program). Payments from the program will take into account a producer’s crop insurance coverage and the size of the loss.

Additionally, a presidential disaster declaration is being pursued and potentially would include public assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged road infrastructure.

During the visits, Burgum and Goehring will explain the state’s whole-of-government approach to dealing with floods. They will be joined by representatives from a host of state agencies, including the state Department of Emergency Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Transportation and the State Water Commission.

The state agency representatives will be available to provide additional information on a range of recovery topics, including agricultural and clean-up resources, mental and behavioral health assistance and flood insurance.

In addition to Burgum and Goehring, state representatives at Monday’s meetings will include the state’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann; Homeland Security Director Cody Schulz; and State Water Commission Assistant State Engineer John Paczkowski. Those planning to attend are encouraged to check out the NDDOT’s travel information map to ensure that flooding hasn’t forced road closures on their planned route.

Following are the meeting times and locations. Officials will be available for media interviews as time allows at each location.

Fargo

WHAT: Meeting with local government officials and other stakeholders

WHEN: 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21

WHERE: Fargo City Hall, 225 4th St. N.

 

Grand Forks

WHAT: Meeting with local government officials and other stakeholders

WHEN: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21

WHERE: Grand Forks Public Works, 724 N. 47th St.

 

Jamestown

WHAT: Meeting with local government officials and other stakeholders

WHEN: 2:15 to 4:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21

WHERE: Civic Center, 212 3rd Ave. N.E.

 

Fessenden

WHAT: Townhall meeting

WHEN: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21

WHERE: Wells County Fairgrounds, Festival Hall, 604 Highway 15

 

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MEDIA: For more information, please contact one of the following:

 

Governor’s Office - Mike Nowatzki at mnowatzki@nd.gov or 701-328-2424 or Mark Staples at mstaples@nd.gov or 701-328-2937

North Dakota Department of Agriculture - Michelle Mielke at 701-328-2233 or mmielke@nd.gov

Department of Emergency Services – Eric Jensen at 701-328-8154 or ericjensen@nd.gov

 

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