Gov. Doug Burgum today requested a presidential major disaster declaration as a result of widespread spring flooding that damaged homes and public infrastructure, inundated hundreds of roads and thousands of acres of farmland, and displaced dozens of residents in western, south-central and eastern North Dakota.
Flooding occurred throughout the state, including in areas seldom subjected to high waters, prompting the evacuation and rescue of stranded residents and motorists, Burgum noted. For example, unprecedented flooding near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers in McKenzie County, which the governor surveyed in late March, forced evacuations and prevented 110 displaced residents from returning to their homes for several days. At least eight homes were destroyed and 12 sustained major damage.
“Powerful floodwaters moved homes off foundations, washed surface gravel and culverts from county and township roads and threatened to disrupt businesses and lifeline infrastructure. Floodwaters swamped farmland and damaged equipment and buildings, resulting in a serious economic hardship for our state’s agriculture producers,” Burgum stated in the request. “Saturated and inundated roads impeded emergency response vehicles, disrupted school bus transportation, and prevented access to fields and pastures for farmers and ranchers. Citizens, their elected public officials and first responders engaged in prolonged battles to protect our communities.
“In the flood’s aftermath, residents and their communities are recovering from extensive personal property and infrastructure damages. Our private and public partners have made the long-term commitment to increase the resiliency of our impacted communities. The support you provide our state will expedite this initiative.”
Preliminary damage assessments indicated that flood damage was expected to exceed nearly $8.5 million. At the time of inspection, it was estimated an additional $2 million would be eligible when floodwaters receded.
Flood-related costs have only added to the financial burden faced by local and tribal jurisdictions whose snow removal and emergency fund budgets were depleted by record or near-record snowfall in February and March, with season totals of 90 to 100 inches of snow in many areas, double the normal amount, Burgum noted.
The governor declared a statewide flood emergency on March 27, activating the State Emergency Operations Plan. The North Dakota National Guard, Department of Emergency Services and Department of Transportation were among the many state agencies that deployed resources to assist in flood-fighting efforts and worked closely with federal and local partners as part of the state’s whole-of-government approach to dealing with natural disasters.
The request being sent to President Trump through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seeks a disaster declaration for the period from March 21 to April 29 for the counties of Adams, Barnes, Cass, Dickey, Emmons, Grand Forks, Grant, Hettinger, LaMoure, Logan, McKenzie, Morton, Pembina, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele, Traill and Walsh.
Burgum also is requesting that North Dakota be designated as eligible for public assistance grants from FEMA to help local governments and certain nonprofits in their flood recovery efforts, and that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be implemented statewide to help communities reduce long-term risk of future flooding. North Dakota’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, will now work with FEMA to coordinate damage assessments and provide further information as the declaration request is considered.