Monday, June 5, 2023

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum requested a presidential major disaster declaration June 2 for spring flooding estimated to have caused more than $5 million in damage to North Dakota roads and other public infrastructure. The request follows an executive order Burgum issued April 10 declaring a statewide flood emergency.

In a letter directed to President Joe Biden through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Burgum requested a major disaster be declared for the period of April 10 to May 6 for 21 counties: Barnes, Burke, Dickey, Dunn, Golden Valley, Grand Forks, Hettinger, LaMoure, McHenry, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Nelson, Pembina, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele, Towner, Walsh and Wells.

Those 21 counties reported about $4.1 million in flood-related damage, with FEMA validating nearly $2.5 million in damage so far. Total damage estimates exceed $5 million, but several counties didn’t meet the per-capita damage threshold to be included in the disaster request.

In the request, Burgum noted that seasonal snowfall records were broken in 58 locations in North Dakota, with Dickinson breaking its all-time record and Bismarck and Grand Forks experiencing their second snowiest winters on record. The statewide snowfall average fell just 0.4 inches short of the all-time record, producing flooding that caused significant damage to roads, culverts and other infrastructure in North Dakota counties – many of which were still recovering from the spring 2022 winter storm and flooding that cost nearly $97 million in damage and was the fifth-largest disaster since 1997.

“As they always do when facing a potential disaster, North Dakotans worked together to protect lives and property from major river flooding and overland flooding, which would have been far worse if not for the enormous investments in flood protection made throughout our state in recent years,” Burgum said. “We appreciate the consideration of this disaster request and are grateful for everyone who worked with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services to assess damages and make the case for federal assistance to help local jurisdictions recover.”

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 flooding.

In addition, 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.